In August 2017 Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE): the business-focused division within HP announced the Spaceborne Computer experiment, which saw the Palo Alto firm team up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX to launch a supercomputer into space.
The computing giant has revealed it has completed test on a new system that could revolutionise the way computers are used in space, and is now teaming up with NASA to launch the devices. The end result being a success with the system achieving one teraflop on the ISS. Instead, it uses a software-hardening approach that is integrated with its HPC nodes, proving we can bring similar, affordable and compact systems to space in the future.
Due to limited computing capabilities in space, numerous calculations that are necessary to complete research projects started in space are still processed on Earth.
HPE said Tuesday that it is bringing the astronauts what it calls "above the cloud supercomputing services" that can be done in real time at the edge in space rather than transmitting that data to and from earth.
"Instead of having to wait while we feed this data through a straw down to earth, we can now do the processing right there on the Space Station", said Dr. Mark Fernandez, Spaceborne computer payload developer and Americas High Performance Computing (HPC) Technology Officer for HPE. "After gaining significant insights from our first successful experiment with Spaceborne Computer, we are continuing to test its potential by opening up above-the-cloud HPC capabilities to ISS researchers, empowering them to take space exploration to a new level".
HPE asserts the traditional approach of transmitting data to and fro is feasible for running research on the moon or in low earth orbits between 400 and 1,000 miles above the Earth's surface where communication can be in near real-time. This has made any on-ground space exploration challenging and potentially unsafe as if astronauts are confronted with mission-critical scenarios, they can't afford latencies.
The HPE Spaceborne Computer that is driving the intelligent edge innovation is based on the HPE Apollo 40 class supercomputer.
Experiments on the ISS capture a high volume of data, including high-resolution images and videos.
Today's network bandwidth in space is dramatically consumed by transmitting large data sets to and from Earth. This will help preserve bandwidth for emergency communications.
By powering this new frontier in space, HPE and NASA aim to further improve independence for space explorers through enhanced insight that will enable artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to unlock new discoveries.
For the previous year, HPE and NASA have been testing the resiliency of the Spacebourne Computer.