Why Designing a Mars Rover Like Curiosity Just Got a Lot Easier By Tim Maly

MSL Rover NX CAD model

You’ve all seen the artist renditions. This is what Curiosity looks like to an engineer.

A few minutes into our interview last Thursday, I ask Tim Nichols, managing director of Global Aerospace, Defenses and Marine Industries at Siemens, if he was nervous about the Curiosity’s fate on Sunday. “Of course I am,” he says with a laugh, “We all know about missions to Mars — they’re complex.” None moreso than Curiosity’s elaborate landing sequence, designed to get the SUV-sized robot down safely.

He needn’t have worried. Late Sunday night, the rover successfully set down on the Martian landscape, overseen by a tense room of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers and watched by so many people here on Earth that all of NASA’s websites crashed. Like the rest of us, Nichols was glued to his screen. Unlike the rest of us, Nichols gets to say he had a hand in it. His company’s software designed Curiosity.

Curiosity is much larger than her unexpectedly long-lived predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity. This meant that she couldn’t just land bundled inside airbags like the smaller rovers.

Instead, the mission executed a complex series of maneuvers to eject the robot from its capsule and lower it to the ground, via a rocket-powered sky crane in a sequence of events that NASA called the Seven Minutes of Terror.

Curiosity was designed by the JPL at the California Institute of Technology. When it came time to coordinate the enormous team of designers and engineers that built Curiosity, the capsule, and the sky crane, JPL turned to Siemens. They needed to design the robot (relatively) cheaply and they needed to design it fast — the launch window for missions to Mars comes once every two years. If you miss the deadline, there’s a long wait ahead.
MSL Capsule with Rover NX CAE thermal model

If you squint, you can see Curiosity and the sky crane folded up together in the capsule.

Luckily, Siemens had developed software suited to this sort of project. They call it Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

One of the costliest parts of creating a new physical product is building and testing prototypes. With PLM’s robust suite of simulators and version tracking, you can avoid a lot of physical prototyping — saving both time and money, and speeding up the development process. In essence, PLM turns the physical engineering of a product into a process that looks more and more like designing code.

PLM runs on a laptop, connected to a central asset manager, called the Team Center. Engineers can check out parts of the project, work on their problems and assignments, and then check it back in to the main branch. This allows for a lot of concurrent design work. “In the past, engineering teams would be somewhat isolated by discipline,” says Nichols, “The overall leadership recognized that they needed to bring all the groups together.”

This is a far cry from past projects, which would be designed as a series of handoffs between teams. First the thermal profiles would be worked out, then the aerodynamics, on down the line. Propagating changes between teams could become a nightmare. PLM changed all of that, Nichols says, giving the team the ability to “compress the schedule and … do many more design iterations.”
MSL NX CAD Exploded view of seperation stages

With luck, this is the only exploded view of the Mars lander that we’ll ever see.

If this sounds a lot like software engineering, especially the open source variety, it’s because it is. There’s a version control system, the ability to check code in and out of the system, and a set of test suites that allow you check the performance of your part of the module in relation to the whole. By keeping the objects in software for as long as possible, you can treat them like software, with all of the speed and flexibility that this implies.

Nichols says their suite of tools has been used to design everything from golf clubs — “Golf clubs are pretty sophisticated, though they haven’t helped my game.” — to aircraft carriers. Looking ahead, he predicts an increasing incidence of distributed international teams of contributors working on a project.
“Global virtual collaboration and engineering is really the future,” he says. “We want to see more of that.”

But first, Curiosity had to make it to Mars. “We all have our fingers crossed,” he said on Thursday. You can uncross them now, Mr Nichols.

The Release of Large Menu Icons

Menu-Icons.com announces the release of Large Menu Icons, a royalty-free library of stock menu images for application developers and web designers. The new set includes 398 icons drawn in matching style, color and gamut. The Large Menu Icons collection sells for $49.00.

About Large Menu Icons

Large Menu Icons is the perfect choice for busy application and Web site developers. This collection of stock icons with matching properties such as style and colors, can be used in various projects and scripts, as well as on portals, blogs, forums, and web sites. Large Menu Icons will make an application, blog or applet look modern and consistent throughout. All icons in the Large Menu Icons collection are royalty-free. The entire collection is immediately available and comes with an online preview.

What’s Inside

The Large Menu Icons collection contains images representing all sides of the application work. Some of the icons in the set are: open, close, edit, validate, time, clock, error, OK, data, computer, archive, people, user, girl, man, admin, horse, car and more.

Large Menu Icons
Technically, the set includes icons in a number of formats, sizes, color resolutions, and image styles. Every icon from the library comes in sizes of 16×16, 24×24, 32×32, 48×48 and 64×64 pixels. Normal, disabled, and highlighted versions are included for every icon. 256-color and semi-transparent True Color icons are supplied. Large Menu Icons are delivered in Windows Icon (ICO), Bitmap (BMP), GIF and PNG formats for instant integration into any systems. The entire Large Menu Icons collection is available for only $49.00. Source images are also available in SVG and AI formats for an additional payment.

Menu-Icons.com also plans to release a number of new original icon sets including Lumina Menu Icons, Windows Menu Icons, New Menu Icons, Cool Menu Icons, Win8 menu Icons, Vista Menu Icons, Mac Menu Icons, Android Tab Icons, Linux Menu Icons, Nokia Menu Icons, iPhone Menu Icons, Mobile Menu Icons.

About the Company

Menu-Icons.com offers thousands of icons in the most difficult small resolutions. PDA and mobile developers and designers can enhance their software with smooth, perfectly rendered icons in the most convenient resolutions. Menu-Icons.com are available in all sizes common to desktop and mobile applications for mobile phones, communicators, and desktop applications. All icons offered by Menu Icons are royalty-free, ready-made and instantly available.

Toolbar Icons – Shaping With Expert Hands!

Toolbar icons have been designed by the most experienced web designers and software designers that are now easy to purchase or download. In most of the cases, the users are simply wasting their time and money by choose icons in different segment. However, you can get wide collection of icons from the huge set of the toolbar icons.

  • At the same way, you can also get more discounts by selecting the toolbar icons in both the single and complete icons collection. These icons designs are available in every formats and size through which you can choose the perfect one according your requirement.
  • You can also easily download the toolbar icons by simply clicking on it. After that, the selected icons are added in the basket that waits for payment processing. On the other hand, you are require to press proceed to checkout link bottom as well as desire payment process for purchasing your icons collection.


They might look like the standard image file, however to design the toolbar icons, one requires some special icon design program capable to make as well as save the image in the ICO format. There are a lot of web design icon web sites that, with the price, will help you out to design your icon. All these icon design web sites have the toolbar icons design groups, which work from a look as well as feel of the web site and with any of the images; you also give them, to design the icon compliant with the multiple browsers. Icon design is accessible in various sizes such as 256 color, 32 x 32 as well as 16 x 16 pixel designs. In case, there are any kind of the changes, you will make a set of the revisions to toolbar icons design without any additional cost. Windows XP cannot show 128 x 128 formats of the icons and size that there is the restricted to dimension of 48 x 48. Icons of the 256 x 256 formats are all applied in the Microsoft Windows Vista.

Standardicons – Download These Icons Packages!

Now days, the standardicons have managed to draw more popularity from users due to its offering tons of reliable and flexible services to users. Also, these icons have been designed with cool looks, great functionality, and perfect shape and sizes. At present, there are numbers of standardicons designs available through which you can decorate your system successfully. One of the best benefits of the standardcons is enhancing the desktop look properly. With it you can get some amazing benefits and these benefits are discussed below.

  • It’s available in any sorts of shape and size
  • You can save tons of money for using at your desktop
  • It’s having great graphic designs and offering cool looks to your computer
  • Available in different formats
  • Designed with new performances
  • These icons have been designed from royalty free images


It’s the perfect time to move for the online media and get all those details about these unique icons that can really help you in your day to day work. In case, you will not design your icon, make use of image, which has to get copied or else pasted on a icon canvas and by pasting the image from the file. In a case of the design your buddy icon, you need to go to the design buddy icon web site on your own. So, here you need to right click at an icon that you like, as well as save that on your computer. After that, in the instant messenger, you need to click on any of the buddy icons that then take you to buddy icon preferences web page. You need to scroll to ‘buddy icon’ as well as click that, and after that choose browse as well as find where you have saved the cool buddy icon as well as select that from there. The buddy icon is set now and you will find there are a few of the favorite web sites in Internet Explorer 5 as well as above, to have the icon to be displayed beside a link.

What are the Symbols Allotted to Travel Icons and how can these Be Categorized

Travel icons can be consistent upon road signs, tourism signs, wildlife icons, maps, earths, hotels and many more. There is a whole world only inside one travel icon, but a good travel icon is simple, clear, having good pixel. There are different images for road travel icons, airways and submarines.

road travel icons are made to guide anything present on the road, every human at least once in a life must had have experience of looking at wildlife icons that are present ton the road, wherever there is a danger of any snake, tortoise and any reptile on the road, there is always a sign board with icon on it to beware the passengers of that road. On the other hand train icons are also said to be road travel icons. Petrol pumps and road map before entering any city helps the customers a lot in recognizing their way. Anyone who is making a website for airfares, road maps, or navy navigation can add these travel icons in the website. Travel icons are largely sued by tourism websites, as they compulsory show hotels, five star hotels, beaches, mountainous region, climate, airports and train tracks in a city where tourism is expected. There are signs and arrows that are provided as well for the specific purpose.


Good air transports also have certain set of icons, which represent meaning in performing any navigation. on website online booking is very common now of international or national flights, people use the travel icon of air ticket to get a booking and whereas check a calendar icon for the schedule of flights. Locations are also searched by using an icon that where does airport exists and where does not. So travel icon has a large range of implications. Mostly travel icons are said vector icons and are arranged under special professionals. Where ever there is any coastal region while shipping that is represented by an icon, moreover where photography is allowed and where it is not all is there on a click away to furnish your website to the best.

Use of good travel icon can surely increase rating of the website as well as cause more traffic and more surfing opportunities’, a good icon shows a motive of the website that whether it is tourism based, national defense based private or public etc. it also make systematic thinking possible. a well formatted web design always go in a sequence in using of icons, professional constructs such icons set for travel that these are systematic and high profiled design. These are the categories of travel icons that are there to give a website plunge.

There are unique, colorful icons of speed limits, vehicle repairing, taxi, price list, phone support, ring boat and so many others that it can surely become helpful in making your business good.

Paper Icons – An Excellent Collection of Icons!

Now computer users can trim their development with smart and stylish icons with the help of paper icon library. Paper icon is offers an excellent collection of icons on the topic of business, circulation of documents and reports. It is a well known fact that attractive icons play a vital part in building the image of any software. More people want to get acquainted with the product that looks more representative and stylish. Moreover, eye-catching icons always represent the product in handsome manner. Now, one can introduce his or her product through the help of paper icon library. One can certainly find his requirement because paper icons are coming in all formats and sizes. The different sizes of paper icons are 16×16, 20×20, 24×24, 32×32, 40×40, 48×48, 64×64 and 256×256. 256 colors and true color with semi transparency are the two color variants of paper icon. Paper icons also available in several file formats like ICO, PNG, GIF and BMP. Paper Icon can help an user to trim the developments with the stylish and smart icons. It is also very important because, in the terms of the statistics, most often viewed programs as well as websites are one that have the eye catching icons.


The document icons are been delivered in the sizes 20×20, 16×16, 32×32, 24×24, 256×256 and 48×48. Icons also come in 2 color variants: around 256 colors as well as True Color with the semi transparency. They as well have many file formats, like PNG, ICO, GIF as well as BMP. You may as well buy the individual icons that will suit your requirements. Every icon is around $5 while bought individually. So, contact with icon names that you want to purchase and we can process the order immediately. You may order collection of the icons with just some of available sizes, for example 32×32 and 24×24. In this case you can get the discount off from usual price. Icon maker is a most important tool you may use to get rid of hassles, which some other web designers and application makers are now facing now and then.

Perfect Doctor Icons – Available in Very Affordable Price!

Icons are becoming a necessary part in every computer user life. In this regard the perfect doctor icons are offering great help to the users and graphic designers. If you are crafting a productive and useful medical program then to improve your program you need the help of perfect doctor icons. These icons are designed by professional designer that represents psychoanalysis, veterinary science, surgery and many other applications. Perfect doctor icons are an attractive collection of menu icons for healthcare and medically related software. Users normally use these icons to enhance the quality of applications. These high quality icons are coming in 96 unique icons. Each icon is coming in different state, and file formats. Now you can get the entire perfect doctor icons in just $49.95. These icons are also available in sizes of 16×16, 20×20, 24×24, 32×32 and 48×48 and ICO, BMP, GIF and PNG file formats.


Making use of set of the Perfect Doctor Icons, and it is likely to develop the professional looking applications for the hospitals, health care and medical specialists. Comprehensive set has icons depicting different medical objects that includes ampoule, thermometer, syringe, ointment, and lots more. There are number of icons that are representing the healthcare positions like dentist, doctor, nurse, cardiologist, or patient. Readily accessible Perfect Doctor Icons can enhance appearance of any healthcare application and medically related program. Images are available immediately different states, resolutions, sizes, color depths as well as file formats, and are been used to design the websites, software, as well as database applications. Set has the icons representing many objects, social roles, symbols, as well as professions like aid Box, optometrist, insurance agent, blood donor, band aid, receptionist, stethoscope, tweezers, cotton roll, stretcher, DNA, pills, funnel, and lots more. The hospitals, test labs as well as offices of the healthcare professionals have various Equipment or varying software needs.

App Tab Bar IOS Icons – Available in User Friendly Formats!

These days, icons designers are offering some extra elegant icons for easy accessibility of the user. These icons are coming in every type of formats and sizes so the user can easily meet their requirements. App tab bar icons are such type of famous icon collection that offers great affordability to the user. Tab bars are the common controller on the computer. You can see these tab bar in ipod, you tube apps and in the phone. You may face the problem of offering the icons when you are creating a tab bar for your own application. However, there are several options you have to solve your problem. One of the great solutions is to use App tab bar icons. These icons are coming with all user friendly resolutions and formats. Now you can get these icons in formats like PNG, PSD, AI and SVG formats and 20×20, 40×40, 60×60 resolutions. The icon set is very carefully crafted to get pixel perfect on high and normal resolution iOS devices. Icons have beautiful shaded parts to give an added depth as well as to highlight the icon features. They are all meant going on a tab bar at a bottom of the app.


You may make use of the icons totally free in the commercial and non-commercial apps providing you put the link to the app bits somewhere in the application. Icons are made with the iOS applications in the mind as well as cover most of icons, which the application might need. The items include player buttons, actions, communication, messages, and lots more. But, they are also used in the websites considering these items are detailed. The icon set is very carefully crafted being the pixel perfect on high and normal resolution devices. Icons have the beautiful shaded parts to give an added depth as well as to highlight the icon features.

iPhone or Android: the Epic Battle

Android or iPhone? The discussion goes on and on. At the time the iPhone first hit the market, there was really no competition. The iPhone was playing in a class of its own. Early Android phones were dismal: slow UI, lags here and there, and the overall “assemble-it-yourself” approach just didn’t with consumers.

iphone icons

Today, the situation has changed. With the latest iPhone being a superb device and a wonderful system, the latest Androids leave little to be desired. Today’s Androids have responsive UI, feature most of the same apps in the Android Market, and abandoned the do-it-yourself, LEGO style approach. Today, picking one phone over another is more of a personal preference. Let’s try to discover what’s good about going the Apple route, and what benefits the Android way can bring.

Hardware and Models

With Apple, you are always limited to just a few models. Or, rather, you’re limited to only one current model in several versions that differ very little. There are a few older models available from the used market, but that’s about it. “You can have any color as long as it’s black”.

Android phones, on the other hand, come in many shapes, models and colors. Various manufacturers use entirely different hardware. Different screens, processors, memory. Very different reliability and usability. Getting an Android phone will require you to do a market research, whereas you can’t go really wrong with any iPhone you can afford. Are you a techie or a gadget guy? Look for an Android phone that flies with you. Others will be served by Apple.


The newest generation of iPhones has a superb Retina display. These super high pixel density screens will render your apps, icons and graphics so smooth it’s hard to believe. Kudos to Apple: they built one of the greatest screens ever.

Android phones come with all kinds of screens. Some of the better ones can match iPhones in resolution, but software integration is still lagging. Many applications still have low-resolution icons and images designed to be displayed on lower-resolution displays. When selecting an Android phone, you will have to watch carefully to get a model with a good screen. If you’re not good with numbers, icon resolutions, angles of view and other specs, just leave the Androids alone.

Built-in Software and UI

An iPhone is an iPhone. They’re all the same. A single operating system, same UI, the same set of pre-installed apps, same icons. You can customize it by shifting stuff around and choosing a few icons on your own, but there’s only so much you’re allowed to do.

Androids come in all sorts of flavor. Different firmware and dozens of OS versions, builds and codenames. Different sets of icons for same apps. Completely different shells and launchers. Fully customizable: you can turn an Android phone into pretty much whatever you want (and it’s not just about custom icons) – but you have to know what you’re doing. With such a broad variety, some models are simply better as in easier to use, more robust and working more reliable than others. If building your very own tailored environment is fun for you, by all means get the Android. If you like it working out of the box, get an iPhone and begin using it right away.


iPhones don’t take memory cards. You’ll be stuck forever with the amount of memory you originally bought. If you outgrow your iPhone, you’ll have to pay for another iPhone, bringing more money to Apple.

Most but not all Android phones come with a microSD slot, allowing you to add more memory when you need it. With microSD cards getting cheaper every year, you will be wealthier in the long run if you buy an Android.

With iPhones, you can’t even swap a battery. If your battery dies in some years (they all do; lithium batteries die in 3-4 years), you’ll be sending your iPhone to Apple for a “major repair” (more money to Apple), or be on the market for a new iPhone (even more dough to Apple).

While some Android devices use similarly user irreplaceable batteries, most phones are easy: just lift the back cover and put a new battery in. A replacement battery will cost a few dollars, allowing you to buy a replacement phone when you want it.


Android phones are cheaper to buy and more affordable to upgrade and maintain. They’re more extensible and customizable. iPhones work great straight out of the box, and offer possibly the best usage experience ever. Which one to pick? The choice is yours.

Perfect People Icons – Attractive Rich Color Icons Collection!

Perfect people icons are huge collection of the attractive rich color icons collection that represents the various body part, racial origins and status. Due to easy accessibility, the user can perform any sorts of task easily with the help of these icons because it’s available in different standard sizes, first-class toolbars and logotypes. You can increase the look of your software with the help of these perfect people icons. You can purchase 83 unique icons designs that related to various social origins, races and group of people. These icons are available in various formats and sizes that suitable for every system setting. Basically, these icons are available in ICO, BMP, PNG and PNG formats that the users can easily download on their desktop without any sorts of changing or editing. You can also get these perfect people icons in several sizes like 16×16, 20×20, 24×24, 32×32 and 48×48 pixels designs to download.


The Perfect People Icons also share some common gamma and style, making the software and Web sites look very professional. Icons are made to look very clearly legible online or in the software. Pack of the Perfect People Icons also includes the images of different sizes of 24×24, 32×32, 16×16, 20×20, as well as 48×48 Pixels. Pack depicts the people of different backgrounds, racial and social origins. Each visitor and user of the software can select the matching avatar without any doubt. There are Woman and Man, Child, Family, as well as Baby icons for the starters, and various icons that are describing nationality like Arab, American Indian, Afro-American, as well as Mexican. Different icons are accessible that also depict the people of different social status like Agent, Retiree, as well as Customers, Client and Conference, Boss and Staff, and more icons showing different business activities, that includes obligatory Coffee Icon. There are Angel and Devil icons to assign to the network administrators! Just for reminders, there are the Spy, Thief as well as Prisoner icons.