HPC from A-Z (part 19) - S

S is for Space exploration!

Are we alone in the cosmos? What is dark matter? What is the universe expanding into? The nature of the cosmos has fascinated us earthlings since we first looked up at the sky and began to wonder. We’ve come a long way since then. We've ditched the loin cloths, created the telescope and even set foot on the moon – but there are many questions which remain unanswered and HPC can be used to help to answer them.

In 1999, a project called SETI@home was set up to search for signs of intelligent life in the universe using volunteers’ idle computers. Back then, SETI borrowed cycles from these computers across the Internet, using their compute resources to analyse intergalactic data. Now while SETI@home didn’t quite manage to find E.T, it’s just one great example of how HPC can benefit space exploration. Put a little more thought into it though, and HPC could be used for a whole lot more; everything from crunching telescope data, analysing rocket and shuttle stability, to scrutinising far away galaxies which could host potential alien life forms.

Whatever the next great step for mankind is, you can bet that HPC will be somehow involved.


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