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Migration to Mars

    Many of us who grew up loving computers also grew up loving and revering the United States space exploration program and NASA. As such it was really interesting to us here in the Zone to find out that, in perhaps one of the most ambitious and historic migration projects ever, the migration of human beings to another planet, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used Dell HPC clusters to test and validate the landing sequence for Curiosity, the Mars rover. Specifically, the JPL’s Dell HPC clusters, Galaxy and Nebula, assisted NASA in analyzing the relevant mission data for NASA to ensure the most complicated portion of the mission to the Red Planet was successfully completed.

    According to a recent Dell press release, “Launched on Nov. 26, 2011, Curiosity landed on the Red Planet at 10:32 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Aug. 5, 2012 near the base of a mountain inside the Gale Crater near the Martian equator. Researchers plan to use Curiosity to study the mountain’s layers, which hold evidence about the wet environments of early Mars and may hold clues about whether the planet ever offered conditions favorable for life. The rolling laboratory will search for two things: environments where life might have existed, and the capacity of those environments to preserve evidence of past life.”

    Considering the cost of mounting this exploration of another planet in our solar system, the use of Dell servers and high performance technology represents a tremendous vote of confidence by NASA.

    JPL’s Dell HPC clusters, Galaxy and Nebula, provided vital support to NASA’s Curiosity rover in analyzing the vast amounts of test data needed to correctly prepare the rover for entering the Martian atmosphere and landing it on the planet. This difficult task was powered by Dell PowerEdge servers that make up the Galaxy and Nebula clusters. The final landing sequence parameters developed by the mission team, which was tested and validated using the Dell HPC clusters, were uploaded last week to Curiosity.

    Jere Carroll, general manager civilian agencies, Dell Federal, said that “We’re proud to work hand-in-hand with NASA, a true American institution that provides the world with the understanding that modern day pioneering delivers optimism and the drive to go further. This notion echoes Dell’s mission to provide customers with a full spectrum of IT hardware and services, helping them to accomplish their mission more effectively and efficiently. Most importantly, we are honored to be able to test and validate this mission’s most critical portion, landing on the Red Planet.”

    In the earliest days of the space program we marveled at the technology aboard the various space capsules and the Shuttle. It’s amazing to think that the same technology we use on our desktops and in our businesses was trusted to fulfill our stellar Curiousity!

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