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John O | March 2018

High-performance computing in the harsh conditions of space

by josh perry, editor


scientists at the university of pittsburgh (pa.) center for space, high-performance, and resilient computing (shrec) have developed a hybrid and reconfigurable space supercomputer that is radiation-resistant to withstand the harsh conditions found in space travel.


the h6 system’s dual high-resolution cameras can take 2448 x 2050 pixel images of earth from the international space station. (university of pittsburgh)


according to a report from the university, the space test program – houston 6 (stp-h6) will be flown to the international space center (iss) in just about one year.


“earlier this month, the pitt system for stp-h6 completed its 1,400-mile earth journey from nasa goddard space flight center in greenbelt, md. to nasa johnson space flight center in houston,” the report continued. “its next much shorter trip is scheduled for february 2019 when it will travel 240 miles skyward from nasa kennedy to the iss. the new space supercomputer is nearly three times more powerful than its predecessor launched last year and contains dual high-resolution cameras capable of snapping 2.5k by 2k pixel images of earth.”


researchers claim that this is the “fastest computing system ever deployed in space.”


in order for the computer to be approved for testing on the iss, it first had to undergo rigorous environmental testing at the goddard space station and initial integration at the johnson space center. it will travel to the iss on a spacex rocket.


the department of mechanical engineering and materials science (mems) also participated in the design of the chassis and thermal modeling that demonstrated that the system could dissipate heat from the components.

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