Whether in lunar probes, satellites, or other devices, file systems can help capture and preserve data right before power failure.

At Tuxera, we are glad to see the incredible aim of NASA’s DART team, and humbled to remember that sometimes hardware is designed to succeed… by failing.

As the probe hurtled towards the rocky surface of Dimorphos, its camera feed delivered a series of approach photos, right up until the point that it didn’t.

Elements of this image furnished by NASA

For the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe, the final partial image is largely useless. This is a situation where a file system was not necessary – the spacecraft not only didn’t save any data, but it was soon after destroyed. For many of our customers’ designs however, that isn’t the case – and getting the last bit of data before power (or device) failure can be extremely important. With such use cases, the last portion of data being incomplete or corrupt can be particularly frustrating.

Committing data predictably and reliably

Controlling when the data is committed to the media and in a reliable fashion is inherent in the design of Tuxera Reliance EdgeTM and Tuxera Reliance NitroTM. In more graceful failure situations (lost battery power or operating system failures) the last good state of the media is preserved. This leads to predictable user data and useful post-failure analysis.

A scenario that comes immediately to mind is an aircraft “black box,” and Reliance Nitro has been used in similar situations. A single transaction point collects a few different appends and updates of files into one operation. These rapid-fire transactions are performed on robust media to achieve both data integrity and product lifetime.

Predictable reliability can also be about the long haul. One of our customers needed to reduce how frequently data integrity operations happened – committing a collection of data every five minutes instead of every 5 seconds (the default on Linux file systems). By matching data and metadata updates to their use case, advanced lifetime analysis showed this product lasting more than 30 years, instead of the 18 provided by ext4.

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Learn more about achieving reliable embedded data storage in space applications by reading our whitepaper, “Data reliability in space.”

Final thoughts

Capturing and preserving the last moments of data before the device shuts down – or is simply destroyed – can be critical in certain use cases. But in extreme environments like outer space, that is no easy feat. The right file system can play an instrumental role in ensuring the data survives harsh end-of-life situations.

Ensure your data is stored and managed reliably – ready for the extreme challenges of space.