Somewhat related to the Phoenix probe landing, I found in the Viking mission page on wikipedia (the exams are here again and I’m looking up things on WP and then getting stuck reading completely unrelated stuff and consequently failing exams) an amazing bit of information. The mission started in 1975 when it sent to Mars two NASA rockets carrying four spacecraft, each having on-board a computer based on the RCU1802 chip (that was a legitimate computer at that time). All four vessels successfully carried out their missions but each one failed years later in a different way. Three computers were shut down in appropriate ways worth a space travel (physical damage) but the last operating one has this failure reason: Human error during software update. Sounds so contemporary.
It’s amazing that a board that left Earth in 1975 could be updated from 100,000,000 km away (some vendors still don’t get it about updates). Even more amazing is that the discussion of whether (and how) to protect software from the user is still not resolved. FIC GTA phones evolve a pattern of writable and read-only memories to become “un-brickable”. I’m sure that’s partially because it becomes less clear who is a user and who is the developer (like in a NASA mission). It’s clear that nobody wants their mission to end this way, “a lorry ran over my phone” somehow sounds much better.