With several high-profile space missions launched this year, NASA is expected to put on quite a showing of its science and engineering prowess at the Supercomputing 2007 (SC07) conference next week.
Engineers with the national space agency will present 40 demonstrations covering research projects that support its critical missions during the convention, which runs from Saturday through Friday in Reno, Nev. NASA said it will show how employees use high-fidelity computational and experimental data for safe re-entry and shuttle landings, as well as how NASA analyzes the safety of designs for its Orion crew exploration vehicle and Ares I crew launch vehicle.
The agency also will show how its computing resources help with studies of planet formation, stars, and black holes.
Phil Webster, chief of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will demonstrate model results on a nine-screen "mini-hyperwall." The wall is a traveling version of NASA's 49-screen visualization tool. A supercomputer's models from the NASA Center for Computational Sciences helped support the most recent assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
"NASA high-end computers are enabling simulations of the Earth's weather and climate with ever-increasing detail," Webster said. "Among this year's highlights, a NASA computer model simulated climate from 1880 through the present, and made projections of 21st century climate."
NASA will exhibit Data-Parallel Line Relaxation code simulations, which help predict the heating environment encountered by high-speed re-entry of space-bound vehicles, including the space shuttle orbiter, the Orion crew capsule, and the Mars Science Laboratory.
"NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division researchers have developed time-accurate computational simulations to analyze the effects of exhaust plumes from the space shuttle and the upcoming Ares I crew launch vehicle on the flame trench below the launch pad," Rupak Biswas, acting chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at NASA Ames Research Center, said in a prepared statement. "These simulations involve modeling extremely complex geometry, and are vital to ensuring the safe launch of next-generation space vehicles."
Ames, which uses the 10,240-processor Columbia system, recently expanded to include a 4,096-processor SGI Altix ICE cluster, a 2,048-processor single-system image SGI Altix 4700 system, and a 640-processor IBM POWER5+ configuration.
The SC07 convention, which also focuses on high-performance computing, networking, storage, and analysis, is expected to draw more than 7,000 people from around the globe.