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Moon Supercomputing Science

A Supercomputer On the Moon To Direct Deep Space Traffic 166

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA currently controls its deep space missions through a network of 13 giant antennas in California, Spain and Australia known as the Deep Space Network (DSN) but the network is obsolete and just not up to the job of transmitting the growing workload of extra-terrestrial data from deep space missions. That's why Ouliang Chang has proposed building a massive supercomputer in a deep dark crater on the side of the moon facing away from Earth and all of its electromagnetic chatter. Nuclear-powered, it would accept signals from space, store them, process them if needed and then relay the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth allows. The supercomputer would run in frigid regions near one of the moon's poles where cold temperatures would make cooling the supercomputer easier, and would communicate with spaceships and earth using a system of inflatable, steerable antennas that would hang suspended over moon craters, giving the Deep Space Network a second focal point away from earth. As well as boosting humanity's space-borne communication abilities, Chang's presentation at a space conference (PDF) in Pasadena, California 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. Best of all the project has the potential to excite the imagination of future spacegoers and get men back on the moon."
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A Supercomputer On the Moon To Direct Deep Space Traffic

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  • Chatter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:41PM (#41650821)

    > in a deep dark crater on the side of the moon facing away from Earth and all of its electromagnetic chatter

    Great... so the one good place we could put radio telescopes because they are shielded from chatter is now ruined because there is a big-ass transmitter.

  • Cold? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quinn_Inuit ( 760445 ) <Quinn_InuitNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:50PM (#41650919)
    I thought heat-sinking in near-vacuum conditions was difficult because, although it's very cold temperature-wise, the ability of the "air" to hold heat is so limited that you can't move very much away.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:14PM (#41651107)

    Those are not real difficulties. The computing centre would be underground, that provides excellent radiation shielding. Computer just needs to survive transportation (when it will not be running) once. much simpler than the shuttle. You don't repair anything, just send a bit extra and apply fail-in-place maintenance strategy... What would be really cool is if they plan to operate at a natural temp... they could be designed for exploit superconduction... maybe the computer would be completely different from earthbound designs.

    So you're advocating for a radically different, first-of-its-kind computer to be installed in a place that's almost impossible to get to.

    Yeah, I'm sure that'll work out well.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson