Why on earth should we care about space?
Pushing the boundaries of edge computing, HPE launched Spaceborne Computer-2 to the International Space Station earlier this year with the bold goals of advancing space exploration, sending astronauts to Mars, and even reducing wildfires on earth.
The next-generation system—which is two times more powerful than its predecessor—will help pave the way for ambitious missions in a new era of space travel and experimentation, says Dr. Eng Lim Goh, senior vice president and chief technology officer for artificial intelligence at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Please read: Computing on the edge of the final frontier
"Edge computing in space is not only useful but essential," Goh says, noting astronauts traveling to Mars will be 250 million miles away from the nearest data center and therefore require local processing to analyze data and conduct real-time experiments.
"As astronauts travel farther and farther away, they will have to be … more and more self-reliant," he says.
Powerful edge computing capabilities—made possible by high-performance systems that are autonomous and can withstand both the vibration at launch and increased radiation in space—will let astronauts process data in minutes versus months. For example, astronauts needing quick medical attention will have portable ultrasound scanners that provide immediate results and diagnoses, well before teams on earth are able to receive scans and send back results, Goh says.
Improving life on earth
Edge computing in space will also benefit us here on earth. For instance, the ISS will use high-resolution streaming cameras to "pinpoint lightning strikes with the aim of predicting forest fires before they happen," Goh says. To do that, the ISS team will have to "analyze enormous amounts of real-time video to isolate the strikes and then send only those snippets instead of all the raw footage to earth," he explains, which "tremendously reduces the time to prediction."
Please listen to: Beyond space travel: How HPE Spaceborne Computer-2 will help earthlings
High-performance edge computers are being used on the ground as well, from helping remote oil crews make critical decisions miles out to sea to enabling field hospital personnel to process CT scans on the spot and potentially save lives.
"Everyday companies are getting insights from devices like edge security cameras in airports and stadiums to robotics and automation in manufacturing plants," Goh says, and this is all happening at speeds once unimaginable.
"When we push the limits of edge computing, combined with powerful advancements in artificial intelligence, networking, high-performance computing, machine learning, and more, we pave the way for incredible discoveries for all of humankind."
Watch other On the Goh episodes.
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