NASA Science, Technology to be Showcased in Seattle

Press Release From: Ames Research Center
Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2005

NASA's innovative high-performance computing technology, cutting-edge simulations, and high-fidelity modeling capabilities will be featured at the International Conference of High Performance Computing, Networking and Storage (SC05) in Seattle's Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Nov. 12-18, 2005.

This year's conference, themed "Gateway to Discovery," will bring together representatives from scores of technical communities to exchange ideas, share recent successes, and plan for future supercomputing endeavors.

"At SC05, we will feature some major high-fidelity modeling and simulations being done on the national leadership-class system, Columbia. Since the system (a 10,240-processor SGI Altix supercomputer) began production computing in June 2004, it has seen a wide variety of exciting applications including shuttle on-orbit support, hurricane modeling, and next-generation space vehicle design," said Dr. Walter Brooks, chief of the Advanced Supercomputing Division at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, where Columbia is located.

"As the main computational resource for the entire agency, Columbia has attained science results not previously possible, including near-real-time simulation and modeling analysis of shuttle damage and risk assessment during the recent STS-114 Discovery mission," added Brooks.

This year, NASA's demonstrations and presentations, featured in a 1,600-square-foot exhibit, highlight research in each of the agency's four mission directorates -- science, aeronautics research, exploration systems and space operations -- in addition to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. NASA scientists also will participate in a variety of panel discussions and technical paper presentations.

Visitors to the NASA booth at SC05 can learn about research being conducted at five of the NASA field centers: Ames Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Glenn Research Center, Langley Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Exhibits include global atmospheric modeling showing how scientists are studying ways to enable real-time prediction of Atlantic tropical cyclones and other meteorological events using Goddard Earth Observing System models. Using data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Prediction and executed on the Columbia supercomputer four times daily, the research has provided critical real-time guidance to forecasters through major events, including hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Visitors also can learn how the combination of experimental testing in wind tunnels and computational methods using NASA's supercomputers has led to the development of some major engineering analysis tools to quickly assess the viability of the space shuttle's heat shield survival during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, thereby enhancing the shuttle's safe return. Visitors also can see a space shuttle wind tunnel model used to conduct this research and some of the shuttle's thermal protection tiles.

Another NASA highlight at the conference is a high-end application based on atomic-scale simulations performed on the Columbia supercomputer. NASA developed a computational method to guide the optimal design of solid-state nanopore devices (nanopores are tiny, nanometer-sized holes in biological or artificial membranes that allow DNA to pass) with the capability of ultra-rapid DNA sequencing. This application is vital to many of NASA's missions, including the monitoring of astronaut health during space missions; detection and identification of extraterrestrial organisms; and studying the underlying genetic mechanisms of various diseases.

SC05 is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

For more information about the conference, please visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs, please visit:

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