Super-computer brings 'cloud' to astronauts in space

November 1, 2018
A SpaceX cargo capsule delivered The Spaceborne Computer to the International Space Station in August 2017

A super-computer at the International Space Station aims to bring "cloud" computing to astronauts in space and speed up their ability to run data analysis in orbit, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise said Thursday.

A SpaceX cargo capsule delivered the equipment, known as The Spaceborne Computer, to the station in August 2017.

After more than a year of tests, HPE says it is ready to bring the cloud experience to astronauts for the first time—a kind of "cloud" above the , as it were.

"We've completed all the requirements of our original one-year agreement. It's been successful and we can open it up," HPE technology officer Mark Fernandez told AFP.

A super-computer is essentially a group of computers that work together.

The one on the ISS contains 32 "cores" and is similar to the kind HPE sells on Earth. It is 30 to 100 times faster than an iPhone or tablet, Fernandez said.

NASA needed to know that any super computer it purchased would be able to function in the harsh environment of space, amid microgravity, radiation and occasional power outages. The HPE product stood up to all the tests.

The goal is for astronauts to be able to run their scientific analysis in space, without transmitting the data to Earth first.

Currently, the connection between space and the Earth can be slow and unreliable. The connection is often lost, and there may be a gap in communication lasting several seconds or more.

Fernandez said the new aims to upgrade the experience—currently a bit like relying on an old, dial-up modem.

"It is slow, it is intermittent and it has high latency," he said.

With the new system, "I'll have lower latency to move my data, I'll have higher bandwidth to move my data. I won't have any loss of signal to get my data down to Earth, and I'll be much more reliable."

On a future journey to Mars, millions of miles away, communication delays could last 20 minutes or more.

So testing such super computers in space, at a relatively close distance of 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth, could help develop future deep space computers.

The Spaceborne Computer will be tested by scientists for just a few months, then sent back to Earth in February or March.

Explore further: SpaceX to launch super-computer to space

Related Stories

SpaceX to launch super-computer to space

August 14, 2017

SpaceX is poised to launch an unmanned cargo ship toward the International Space Station Monday, including a super-computer that could direct astronauts on future deep-space missions.

Recommended for you

Gravitational waves from a merged hyper-massive neutron star

November 14, 2018

For the first time astronomers have detected gravitational waves from a merged, hyper-massive neutron star. The scientists, Maurice van Putten of Sejong University in South Korea, and Massimo della Valle of the Osservatorio ...

The dance of the small galaxies that surround the Milky Way

November 14, 2018

An international team led by researchers from the IAC used data from the ESA satellite Gaia to measure the motion of 39 dwarf galaxies. This data gives information on the dynamics of these galaxies, their histories and their ...

Galaxies like Russian dolls

November 13, 2018

Jairo Méndez Abreu and Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres, researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), have discovered a peanut-shaped structure in the inner bar of a double-barred galaxy close to the Milky ...

Giant flare detected on a pre-main sequence M star

November 13, 2018

Using the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS), astronomers have identified an energetic flare displaying quasi-periodic pulsations on the pre-main sequence M star NGTS J121939.5-355557. The newly detected flare is one of ...

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Cusco
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2018
A super-computer is essentially a group of computers that work together... It is 30 to 100 times faster than an iPhone or tablet


OK, this is possibly the worst explanation of a supercomputer that I have seen anywhere, much less on a science-oriented web site. Faster than a phone? By all the gods . . .
Thorium Boy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2018
Their advertisers probably told them to start dumbing things down to attract more readers.
SciTechdude
not rated yet Nov 02, 2018
32 cores... my PC has 4 cores and 8 logical cores, So between 4-8x more powerful than an average i7 computer.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Nov 02, 2018
Don't need much local power if you're accessing the cloud.
moranity
not rated yet Nov 04, 2018
Why do they have a bad radio connection to the ground?Satellites seem to manage OK. In fact some are used for this very purpose. They could even use high flying aircraft to boost/route the signal. Maybe some famous UK satellite broadcasting company will have spare kit to rent.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.