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NASA Space Supercomputing Science

NASA Creates an Alien's Eye View of Solar System 53

Flash Modin writes "Using the Discover supercomputer — which is capable of 67 trillion calculations per second — astronomers at NASA Goddard have created a series of images of what our solar system would look like to an alien astronomer at various points in time. Their simulations track the interactions of 75,000 dust grains in the Kuiper Belt, and show that while the planets would be too dim to detect directly, aliens could deduce the presence of Neptune from its effects on the icy region. Strikingly, the images resemble one taken by Hubble of the star Fomalhaut. NASA has put out a cute video to go with the announcement as well."
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NASA Creates an Alien's Eye View of Solar System

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  • Good example (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:26AM (#33702298)
    Of why we need to win the supercomputer race! Crucial applications like this...
  • by haydensdaddy ( 1719524 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @08:48AM (#33702514)
    Seriously, I would be interested in seeing the taxpayer cost of this little photoshop session. And they wonder why they're being regarded as irrelevant and having their funding cut...
  • Re:Aliens Eyes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:46AM (#33702828)

    The point isn't how an alien's eyes might work, but what frequencies are useful for examining a star system.

    Humans don't see infrared to any useful degree, nor x-ray, nor radio, and yet we image the heavens in each for different reasons.

    While we couldn't guess that an alien might see the same colours on a false-colour representation of our solar system... we can reasonably say they would be looking at some kind of representation of an infrared image of us because that's the best way to get information about us.

  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:16AM (#33703006)

    Right; what good could astronomy possibly do? We don't need to know about outer space! [/sarcasm]

    This 'little Photoshop session' helps astronomers better understand what they observe. It's part of the process that started with Copernicus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:30AM (#33703102)

    You surly jest.

    NASA has such a small portion of the funds it's outsourcing stuff. Projects like this are stepping stones to larger ones. Also this is time used on a machine they already own.

    Their funding is being cut and they're being seen as irrelevant because no one has the balls to take risk anymore. Politicians are too worried about reelection to have Astronaut XXX's name smeared on their name.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:55AM (#33703256)
    The Citizens of the United States Spend more on Cell Phones each year than the total budget for NASA. Its no wonder we've not been anywhere cool.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra