Supercomputer checks potential Discovery risks

NASA supercomputer Columbia, named in honor of the crew lost in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster, is on call and ready to work over-time to support astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Today, Columbia is assessing a small debris event that occurred during launch, based on data from ascent images. Researchers do not expect the incident will present a problem because it happened relatively late in the climb.

'The Columbia supercomputer is playing a major role in assisting the Discovery mission in real time," said Eugene Tu, director of the Exploration Technology Directorate at the Moffett Field, Calif.-based NASA Ames Research Center, where Columbia is housed. "So far, so good. We're seeing a lot less activity for this part of the flight than we had for last year's mission."

Forty percent of Columbia's systems are on stand-by just in case.

Damage assessment teams who are studying the results of yesterday's on-board inspection will decide if any of the findings merit high-resolution simulations on Columbia. Data from launch camera images, radar and in-flight inspections yesterday will be entered into Columbia's models, if necessary.

"There hasn't been anything they flagged from those inspections or the radar data that showed a problem," as of this morning, Tu said.

In addition, any damage to the thermal protection tiles identified during the 12-day mission will be modeled to gauge potential risks during re-entry.

Last month, the Columbia system ranked fourth on the Top 500 list of the world's fastest computers.

Featured

  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Records management is about to get harder

    New collaboration technologies ramped up in the wake of the pandemic have introduced some new challenges.

  • puzzled employee (fizkes/Shutterstock.com)

    Phish Scale: Weighing the threat from email scammers

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Phish Scale quantifies characteristics of phishing emails that are likely to trick users.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.