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Pitt Researchers Control Supercomputers in Space


A graduate student conducts diagnostic testing on prototype hardware that eventually will be sent to the International Space Station.

Researchers at the U.S. National Science Foundation's Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing at the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus are conducting high-performance computing operations in space.

Credit: Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

Researchers at the U.S. National Science Foundation's Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC) at the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus are conducting high-performance computing operations in space.

CHREC's current project includes two space-based processors at the International Space Station that can capture Earth images in 10-second intervals.

CHREC director Alan D. George notes these processors are reconfigurable computers, which means they can reshape their hardware to perform different functions once new software has been uploaded.

George says this initiative and the following CHREC project will emphasize creating lighter, more energy-efficient computers that are tolerable to space and process data faster. He notes the project's mission to examine space imagery must balance those images' relevance with how much computing power is consumed by the downloading process.

Ultimately, George says CHREC seeks to build autonomous space computers that can process collected information, determine which images are important, and automatically export them to Earth-based computers.

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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