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.

inside gcn

  • health data

    Improving the VA patient journey with data transparency

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group