OEM Solutions

HPE and NASA Team Up To Advance Space Exploration

Given the current constraints on computing in space, there are various calculations needed for space research performed on Earth. For astronauts on Mars, this means waiting as long as 40 minutes for communications to reach Earth and back. To advance this mission, HPE and NASA launched a supercomputer into space on the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on August 14, 2017. On the surface of things, this is about as close to mundane as space travel gets, but for the team of Hewlett Packard Enterprise engineers, it had special significance. On board was an HPE super-computer – appropriately enough from the Apollo 4000 range – especially kitted out for the journey ahead.

A mission to Mars requires sophisticated onboard computing resources that are capable of extended periods of uptime. To meet these requirements, we need improved technology and viability in space. By sending a supercomputer to space, HPE takes the first step in that direction. Future phases of this experiment will eventually involve sending other new technologies and advanced computing systems, like Memory Driven Computing, to the ISS once we learn more about how the Spaceborne Computer reacts in space.

The Spaceborne Computer is the supercomputer used for the year-long experiment conducted by HPE and NASA, to run a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer system in space. The goal was to operate seamlessly in the harsh conditions of space for one year, roughly the amount of time it takes to travel to Mars.

As one considers the latency and bandwidth issues of space travel, the advantage of onboard HPC is clear. The average round-trip signal as you get close to Mars is 26 minutes. With this delay, it’s hard to have a conversation over this network much less carry out complex computational tasks. Ultimately HPE positioned itself to provide its memory-based, The Machine supercomputer for Mars exploration. Memory-Driven Computing helps efficiently and effectively tackle the big data challenges of the day, and make it possible for all to—one day—send humans to Mars.

Sending people to Mars opens up enormous computing demands. They will need to be “guided by a computer capable of performing extraordinary tasks,” says Kirk Bresniker, Chief Architect, Hewlett Packard labs. These include:

  • Monitoring onboard systems, the way a smart city monitors itself—anticipating and addressing problems before they threaten the mission.
  • Tracking minute-by-minute changes in astronaut health—monitoring vitals and personalizing treatments to fit the exact need in the exact moment.
  • Coordinating every terrestrial, deep space, Martian orbital and rover sensor available, so crew and craft can react to changing conditions in real time.
  • And most importantly, combining these data sets to find the hidden correlations that can keep a mission and crew alive.


Benefits to HPE and its customers

The value of this project is two-fold. First is for Earth-based customers. From NASA's certification process and experience through this year-long experiment may be applied to HPE’s product lines to benefit the customers. Second is for space-bound customers. If this or a subsequent experiment produces successful results, they will use the latest and most powerful off-the-shelf computers.

 HPE’s system software manages real-time throttling of the computer systems based on current conditions and mitigates environmentally induced errors. Even without traditional ruggedizing, the system still passed at least 146 safety tests and certifications to be NASA-approved for space. The Spaceborne Computer experiment will not only show what needs to be done to advance computing in space but also spark discoveries for how to improve high-performance computing (HPC) on Earth and potentially have a ripple effect in other areas of technology innovation. 

Learn More about HPE’s OEM Program

Visit the HPE OEM Program page on hpe.com 

Learn More about HPE’s OEM Program

Visit the HPE OEM Program page on hpe.com 

The HPE OEM hpe.com page showcases the quality, experience, and pedigree of the HPE OEM program and why our customers are choosing HPE. Visit the new site today!

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