NASA Showcases Science at 2008 Supercomputing Conference

NASA will highlight some of its most inspiring science and engineering achievements at the International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC08), at the Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas, Nov. 15–21, 2008.

At NASA’s SC08 research exhibit, scientists and engineers will be on hand to explain more than 40 projects supporting some of NASA’s most critical mission work — all made possible by the agency’s powerful high-end computing (HEC) resources. Featured are presentations about how NASA is advancing the ability to predict tropical storms to help reduce loss of lives and property, and working to design the thermal protection system for America’s next-generation spacecraft, the Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV). The exhibit also highlights innovative computational methods to reduce the sound from jet engines — a source of noise pollution for the public and potentially hazardous operating conditions for pilots.

NASA’s high-performance computers are critical for the accurate simulations needed to support safe engineering designs for the Ares launch vehicles, and the CEV and launch abort system,” said Rupak Biswas, acting chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “With a new generation of supercomputers now in place, NASA is planning even more significant extensions to its high-end computing resources in the coming years to meet the continuing surge in computational requirements,” Biswas said.

The computational infrastructure at Ames was recently expanded to include Pleiades, a 47,104 processor core SGI® Altix® ICE system to augment the Columbia supercomputer in supporting NASA’s four key mission areas. In addition, the NASA Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., has nearly tripled the performance of its Discover cluster to 67 trillion calculations per second (teraflops) with the addition of an IBM® iDataPlex® system containing 4,096 processor cores. The expanded Discover will enable high-resolution modeling of climate, weather, solar activity, and astrophysical phenomena.

“Discover can now provide NASA researchers with even more critical computing power needed for current and future NASA Earth and space science studies,” said Phil Webster, NCCS project manager and chief of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Conference participants will also see captivating images and videos generated using NASA computer data models and simulation results, shown on the nine-screen “mini-hyperwall,” a traveling version of the recently installed hyperwall-2 visualization system.

NASA’s exhibit (booth #1343) represents work supporting all four of the agency’s mission directorates — aeronautics, exploration systems, science, and space operations. This work is conducted by researchers at six NASA field centers: Ames Research Center; Goddard Space Flight Center; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland; Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.—in addition to various NASA research partners. The conference is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and by the Association for Computing Machinery.

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