NASA Gives Scientists Supercomputer As Earth Day Gift

With Earth Week upon us, NASA has presented climate research scientists with a present they are sure to love: NEX, a planetary data-crunching tool that uses a 56,832-core, 128-screen supercomputer to blend global satellite data and sophisticated modeling software with an online collaborative culture. The system is intended to help scientists work together toward better climate change research.

NEX is short for NASA Earth Exchange, and can supply scientists anywhere in the world with the kind of computing power needed to quickly draw up models and gather snapshots of land use patterns, weather systems and other ecological factors, NASA is hoping that this will increase the global output of useful, reliable climate data.

For example, using NEX, NASA scientists were able to cobble together half-trillion-pixel snapshots of global vegetation change over the past 30 years in just ten hours. That sort of data crunching would’ve have taken months longer without NEX’s capacity for data storage and processing, not to mention access to NASA’s library of Landsat images.

But perhaps more importantly, NEX will bring together researchers from across disciplines and across the globe, perhaps helping to circumvent some of the academic politicking that has stymied some earlier efforts at pulling together a comprehensive global climate study. Further, projects carried out on NEX will be available to all users, meaning not only that data sets are reusable for future projects, but data processing and analysis will all be captured, step by step, by NEX. Anyone audacious enough to try to skew the numbers will have some explaining to do.

Pleiades, the supercomputer that runs NEX, has a 1.4 petabyte capacity and will reside at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing HQ at the agency’s Ames Research campus in California.

Source: Popular Science.

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