Tuesday, September 26

They reveal the programming language used by the James Webb telescope, and some have thrown their hands to their heads

Little by little we are getting to know all the secrets of the James Webb telescope, one of the most important space innovations of recent decades.

The james webb telescope It has been on everyone’s lips in recent weeks. Even in that of people who have no interest in space.

The incredible images you have sent us are revolutionizing space exploration, to the point that some astronomers could not hold back tears when they saw them. How to get cataract surgery

The james webb technology it’s revolutionary: it sees farther than any other telescope, and with higher resolution. But it turns out that the hardware and software behind it are not exactly the most advanced in the world…

A few days ago we learned that the James Webb telescope stores the photos it capturesin a single 64GB SSD. It fills up in a day, so it has to continually send them back to Earth.

The reason is that you have to protect the SSD from radiation and other problems in space, and the simpler it is and the fewer components it has, Less chance of it going bad.

Something similar happens with software. The Verge today publishes a PDF from NASA explaining that The programming language that the James Webb uses is… Javascript.

It is the most popular web page creation language, but in recent months it has been heavily criticized. Even prestigious programmers such as the creator of the JSON language consider it “a dinosaur” that drags performance and security problems.

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As the PDF explains, the ISIM-module, which is responsible for capturing the photos and sending them to Earth, uses a series of scripts written in JavaScriptto carry out their tasks.

Every day from Earth they choose the list of tasks that are going to be executed, launching the respective JavaScript scripts, although later these tasks can be carried out with software written in other languages.

Even more surprising: those scripts are edited with Nombas ScriptEase 5.00esoftware that was last updated… in 2003, almost 20 years ago.

doWhy NASA uses “dinosaur” language in applications that are not a web page, and with software that hasn’t been updated in 20 years?

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First of all, the PDF is already a few years old. They may have since updated it, but unlikely: NASA only uses software that is well testedand wouldn’t risk switching to a newer version, which might contain bugs.

It must be taken into account that in construction of the Webb telescope began in 2001, and at that time the ScriptEase 5.00e editor was one of the most used. If it hasn’t been updated, it has no bugs, and if it doesn’t…why change it?

As soon as to the use of Javascriptthe document explains that they chose it because it is a language that uses commands close to English, easy to read, and can be modified in seconds like a text document. So it’s very easy to customize tasks on the fly, without compiling and other tedious steps that other languages ​​need.

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They are many years of experience, and at NASA everything is thought and rethought. Nothing is left to chance, everything has a reason, and years of testing behind it.

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