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For Release: July 14, 2003

Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office

Remote Computing Demonstrated by NASA

The first demonstration of NASA's capability to extend powerful computing resources to remote locations was performed on June 25 in the Utah desert. Researchers from NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, worked with field scientists from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, to design, perform and analyze results of the experiment that was demonstrated.

Designed by Dr. Richard Beck of the Department of Geography at the University of Cincinnati who is serving as the lead field scientist, the demonstration utilized the concept of ground truthing. Dr. Beck was assisted by Dr. Robert Vincent of Bowling Green State University.

Ground truthing is a method of verifying the scientific validity of satellite images and clarifying irregularities in the imagery. Ground-truthed imagery can be used to locate geological compositions of interest for a given area. On Mars, this process has the potential to enable astronaut scientists to pinpoint optimum areas to explore after they first ground-truth the satellite imagery from the planet surface. This process will enable astronauts to ground-truth imagery, get results back, then use the results during extra vehicular activity without returning to Earth to process the data from the mission.

The experiment was the first attempt by a field team to ground-truth satellite instrument data in real-time and include simulated astronauts, a field geographer and geologist taking spectrum measurements on the ground while being imaged by a satellite (EO-1) from above. The scientists used a combination of field computing resources along with the NASA Information Power Grid (IPG) supercomputers and mass storage devices at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California and Glenn to complete the ground-truth. The team connected to these NASA resources over the NASA Research and Education Network (NREN) hybrid networks, which included a wideband satellite link, and wideband terrestrial networks.

The technology can also be applied to emergency settings, or scientists working in the field just about anywhere, including human missions back to the moon or Mars, where space will be limited yet computational requirements will be high for the explorers.

This work is funded by the Computing, Information and Communication Technology (CICT) Program in the Office of Aerospace Technology.

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