Karen Jenvey
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Nov. 8, 2011
NASA, Science Technology Featured at Supercomputing Conference
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA will highlight the vital role of supercomputing in the search for Earth-size planets, understanding the causes of space weather, relating air quality impacts to the changing weather and climate, improving aircraft performance, designing next-generation spacecraft, and much more at the 24th annual Supercomputing 2011 (SC11) conference.

The leading international conference on high-performance computing, networking, storage and analysis will be held Nov. 12-18, 2011, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Wash.

NASA's SC11 exhibit will feature more than 40 research demonstrations, along with talks featuring discoveries from the Kepler Mission, which has expanded our knowledge of planetary systems; high-resolution simulations to better understand the causes of "space weather" or solar storms that can damage our electrical and satellite communications systems; climate model projections contributed to an international climate impact assessment; computational tools designed to improve prediction of rotorcraft noise; and simulations conducted by NASA computational fluid dynamics experts to study the next space launch system design.

"Scientists and engineers across the country rely on NASA’s supercomputing, high-speed network, and mass storage resources, as well as end-to-end services, to make these kinds of discoveries, expand our knowledge of Earth and the universe, and design the next generation of space vehicles that will replace the space shuttle," said Rupak Biswas, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

The NAS Division operates Pleiades, a 112,896-core SGI Altix system, ranked as the seventh-most powerful supercomputer in the world on the June 2011 TOP500 list. Among the hundreds of agency projects supported, Pleiades plays a key role in the search to find other Earth-sized planets. The Kepler spacecraft has discovered more than 1,200 planet candidates in other Milky Way solar systems—including the first confirmed detection of a planet orbiting two stars 200 light-years from Earth.

“The Pleiades supercomputer has enabled the Kepler project to perform the computationally intensive planetary transit search on two years of Kepler data for upwards of 200,000 observed stars, in less than 24 hours. The same search would take over a month on Kepler hardware,” said Todd Klaus, an engineer based at NASA Ames from Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. “The use of Pleiades will become even more important going forward since the run time of the algorithm increases by the square of the number of collected data points," Klaus added.

Besides the work done by Pleiades for Kepler at Ames, the Discover supercomputer and data services at NASA Goddard’s NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) are playing central roles in NASA's Earth science mission. Over the past year, NCCS has enabled real-time forecasts for NASA field campaigns studying air quality and hurricanes and hosted agency contributions to the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

"Processor upgrades and the addition of graphics processing units to Discover are also pushing the capabilities of NASA climate models," said Phil Webster, NCCS project manager and chief of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office at NASA Goddard. "The GEOS-5 atmosphere model recently completed a two-year 'Nature Run' at 10-kilometer resolution—the highest-resolution simulation of its kind—to assess the value of new satellite observations. For future studies, GPUs are showing the potential for speeding up GEOS-5 15 to 40 times over conventional processor cores."

For media attending the Supercomputing 2011 conference who wish to schedule an interview at the conference, please contact Jill Dunbar by email at or by phone at 650-604-3534.

Demonstrations in NASA's exhibit (booth #615) represent work by researchers at six NASA field centers: Ames Research Center; Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio; Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., in addition to various NASA university and corporate partners.

For non-news media seeking technical information about NASA's supercomputing, high-speed network, and mass storage resources, please contact Jill Dunbar with the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at 650-604-3534 or

For more information on the NAS Division, visit:

For more information about NASA's exhibit at the SC11 conference, visit:

For more information about NASA's high end computing program, visit

For more information about the SC11 conference visit:

- end -

text-only version of this release

To receive Ames news releases via e-mail, send an e-mail with the word "subscribe" in the subject line to To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to the same address with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

NASA Image Policies