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Austin tech played vital role in Mars rover landing

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TWC News: Austin tech played vital role in Mars rover landing
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A recent mission to a distant plant received some help from a company right here in Austin.

Newly received images from the Mars rover named Curiosity, show a world virtually untouched by humans. Putting the one-ton machine gently on the surface of Mars was a historic venture which received some help from a homegrown company right here in Austin.

At the Austin Convention Center, National Instruments is currently hosting its yearly conference. The company provides tools to engineers across the world.

"Space exploration is definitely an area where we are seeing a lot of use for our platform for pretty exciting technologies," Kerry said.

NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory have had a long relationship with National Instruments, headquartered in North Austin. For the recent eight-month trip to Mars, NASA engineers used software developed by National Instruments called LabVIEW.

LabVIEW is a software system which allows scientists to receive a wide range of signals in real time. It also helped the Rover team to make sense of the information coming in.

LabVIEW made it possible for the scientists to navigate millions of miles away.

"As an engineer and a person who grew up watching shows like Star Trek, I mean it is definitely a thrill to see any application where our products are helping to put things into space," Senior Product Manager Elijah Kerry said.

While Curiosity’s landing is a major success for the teams involved, it is only a part of what National Instruments does. Representatives tell YNN they are involved with many of the Formula 1 teams, but cannot discuss specific involvement.

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