eclipse (kdshutterman/Shutterstock.com)

NASA calls on cloud for online eclipse streaming

Countless Americans have scrambled over the last few days to find protective glasses and good viewing locations, but NASA has spent the last three years preparing for up to a billion users to view the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse through streaming on NASA TV.

Through NASA’s Web Enterprise Service Technology Contract, InfoZen is responsible for hosting streaming on NASA TV, which is hosted on the agency’s website. InfoZen provides the majority of its 100 cloud service applications to NASA through Amazon Web Services. One of those services is a searchable multimedia database.

“We have architected a solution for the eclipse to use the most robust cloud services and other infrastructure that might come into play with streaming,” Sandeep Shilawat, Infozen’s cloud program manager, told GCN. “We have a list of vendor partners [who are] coming up with a backup plan for the backup for the backup.”

NASA’s 13 NASA TV streams are hosted through the AWS Simple Storage Service known as S3. The service allows NASA to “segregate” the stream for the eclipse and apply “multiple mechanics” including auto-scaling caches and time delivery.

“There are multiple areas where the eclipse is being monitored, so it is not just North America but worldwide that this event can be viewed,” Shilawat said. “We are incorporating ways for the global service not to go down.”

Viewing estimates for the solar eclipse depend on a variety of factors, including weather and cloud cover. NASA is prepping its website to be able to handle up to a billion viewers just in case more people than expected are not able to physically view the eclipse in person.

“Because of how important this event is and the demand worldwide, we are treating this like a NASA launch,” said Steve Penyak, senior vice president of IT modernization at InfoZen. “It doesn’t compare to launching a rocket ship, but with the preparations, planning and looking into contingency plans, we are treating this similarly in terms of choreographing how it is going to be done.”

According to NASA, the solar eclipse will begin at 9:05 am PDT in Lincoln Beach, Ore., and the lunar shadow will leave the United States at 4:09 EDT. More information from NASA on the solar eclipse can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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