"Operation Lunar Supercomputer" --To Monitor Exploration of the Solar System & Beyond
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September 18, 2012

"Operation Lunar Supercomputer" --To Monitor Exploration of the Solar System & Beyond

 

            Moonbase

 

Stephen Hawking, world-celebrated expert on the cosmological theories of gravity and black holes who held Issac Newton's Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University, called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and in a lecture in honor of NASA's 50th anniversary. The Moon is a good place to start because it is "close by and relatively easy to reach", Hawking said. "The Moon could be a base for travel to the rest of the solar system," he added. would be "the obvious next target", with its abundant supplies of frozen water, and the intriguing possibility that life may have been present there in the past.

Last week, in a presentation to the AIAA Space conference in Pasadena, California, Ouliang Chang of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, suggested that NASA build a supercomputer and accompanying radio dishes on the far side of the moon in a deep crater near a pole where it would be protected from the moon's extreme temperature swings, and might let it tap polar water ice for cooling. This lunar supercomputer would not only ease the load on terrestrial mission control infrastructure, it would also provide computational power for the "first phase of lunar industrial and settlement development."

NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) currently controls its space missions through a network of huge satellite dishes in California, Spain and Australia. Even the Voyager 1 35 years after it's launch from Earth relies on the DSN as it enters the frontier of the solar system, NASA's Voyager 1 probe may be tasting interstellar space for the first time, according to scientists analyzing fresh data from the distant explorer sent via the DSN. But the network data stream is growing fast, at a rate that the current systemcan't handle. The USC presentation at the conference also suggests that the moon-based dishes could work in unison with those on Earth to perform very-long-baseline interferometry, which allows multiple telescopes to be combined to emulate one huge telescope.

Companies like HP and IBM now build modular blocks which can be plugged together on location to provide massive computing power that could be shipped to the moon by the new commercial space cargo companies such as Space X.

The Daily Galaxy via New Scientist and USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Comments

Bad idea, computers are advancing too fast. By the time you set up a supercomputer center on the moon, the hardware is obsolete. Great gig for system administrators. But shuttling crews back and forth is extravagant. Has any astronaut even been to the moon twice? Oh yeah, them damn hackers will get up there somehow!

So in the future, travel cliches will include layovers on the Moon instead of Dallas or Atlanta? I can see the future tweets...3 day layover on moon due to a freak meteor shower. #FML #mothernature

This article seems to quote Hawking as saying that there is:

"the intriguing possibility that life may have been present there in the past."

I've actually never heard any theories about past life on the moon? Is that quote correct? If so, if anyone knows about possible "past life" on the moon, and what the reference is to, exactly, feel free to comment below!

Also: for "farticustheelder"'s comment above, about how we should not build a computer on the Moon because of the evolution rate of computers... that argument could be used against the building of any computer, anywhere!

Why build any computer at all, if there will be a slightly more powerful version in 6 months?

And yet, we need to build and buy computers.

Even a computer that is slower and older, can still perform powerful functions and tasks. The Voyager space probes are using 1970's computers but still sending back useful data.

Should they have said in the 1970's, "Let us not build these probes, because computers will be more powerful in the future!"

Even all of NASA's 1960's computers combined had less computing power than your cell phone, and yet it was enough to achieve great things and land men on the moon.

Again, should they have said in the 1960's "Let us not go to the moon, because computers of the future will be more powerful"?!

Likewise the Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars might have a 10 to 20 year lifespan... again should they have not built curiosity because computers 20 years from now will be amazingly more powerful?

We can't put off our current dreams just because the future will have faster computers. The time to act on our dreams is now.

Excellent points Velocity Wave....I agree...Send up the computers but make sure they are easily upgradable. Every
10th mission send up some memory and change out the processors.
The future is now...Carpe Universe!! I don't even know if that
makes sense but you get the enthusiasm.

I believe the evidence for past life on the moon that Hawkings is refering to is the 1999 announment by Russian scientist that they had found fossilised micro organisms identical to earth micro organisms in lunar core samples returned by there lunar return mission, although dismissed as being contaminated by other world scientists its hard to deny when the sample was drilling and sealed on the moon and return to earth and examined immediately and the fossils were found deep in the sample where contamination was extremly unlikely. ( hope this helps) Not quite sure why anything that russia discovers is simplly shot down by the west and not reported on. aaaaaargh

Are we sure it's a good idea to put a supercomputer, which is priceless, on a surface that is sometimes hit by meteors, which would crush it so much you won't even be able to see the pieces with a microscope? Might not be such a good idea. Maybe if it's a minor supercomputer, but a advanced one would be like placing a priceless computer on a mine field! Maybe if we find a way to make a shield around the moon to stop meteors and space junk, but I don't think it's wise to do it yet. At least make it indestructable.

Steven Hawking no longer holds the position of Lucasian Chair as he retired from the position in 2009. Great article, I enjoyed reading it!

ScienceKids, I agree if you're talking about a classic supercomputer or something like Watson. However, even shipping up a pair of racks packed full of blade servers spliced together in a Beowulf cluster, or something similar, would give MUCH improved computational capacity. And let's face it, most likely it would cost more to ship the array up there than the entire array would probably cost. and using blades, you can upgrade it in waves if necessary, just slip the old one out and pop in a new one.

Looks like there should be Mars in front of "would be "the obvious next target", with its abundant supplies of frozen water, and the intriguing possibility that life may have been present there in the past."

Yes, this is a wonderful idea by the Stephen Hawking. Building a supercomputing cluster on the moon is a great idea. NASA astronauts would first build a datacenter on the moon. If it was the dark side of the moon, then there would be no problems with cooling efficiency. NASA could send some raised floor assemblies on the next revision of the space shuttle to build this next generation datacenter. And then some racks. Then, NASA astronauts would bring some highly dense blade chassis assemblies with them, to populate the racks. After that, NASA astronauts would run some wiring from the dark side of the moon to the not dark side of the moon and then install some solar panels, which would power the datacenter. Then, NASA astronauts would install Microsoft Windows HPC on each blade. After that, NASA astronauts would install some satellite dishes to communicate between the Moon and the Earth. Then those supercomputing blades could be updated remotely from the Earth. Once all of that is complete, the Earth could then solve a lot of problems from the Moon that could not be figured out on the Earth. This is a great idea Professor Hawking, Nobel Prize material at its finest.

i love all the armchair heros rubbishing the ideas of the smartest man on earth.

I don't know. The one man made thing we can cheaply send to the moon is data. Is the time lag annoying? Sure, but I doubt its 100s of millions of dollars annoying. It would be infinitely easier and cheaper to upgrade the lagging terrestrial infrastructure then building even a small amount of lunar infrastructure.

I'm not saying it shouldn't happen. I just don't think it will happen first. Get the colonies and research labs set up first.


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