Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Imaging Aids In Return to Flight

Lockheed Martin Spaces Systems-Michoud
NASA Michoud engineers used a SGI Altix system to complete impact analysis simulations of foam, ice and other debris and to model and analyze the design of the Shuttle's external fuel tank. The external tank (shown here) is in production.
Lockheed Martin Spaces Systems-Michoud
SGI's Altix computing systems are being used by NASA Michoud engineers to run impact analysis simulations of foam, ice and other debris as well as model and analyze the design of the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

Electronic imaging suppliers played a pivotal role in help NASA Return to Flight, even if future missions are delayed.

Silicon Graphics (Mountain View, CA), for instance, supplied a number of the advanced visualization and computer systems, including the Columbia supercomputer, to help solve problems ranging from finding ways to prevent ice from forming on fuel tanks and analyzing if and how debris may break off and collide with the shuttle surface, to what impact reentry may have on a repair. In thousands of tests and analyses aimed at modifying the shuttle vehicle to ensure safer lift-off and re-entry, NASA scientists worked with increasingly massive data sets. Use of SGI technology to support NASA Return to Flight includes:

  • Kennedy Space Center (Orlando, FL). Kennedy's Ice/Debris Facility, where NASA gets its first close-up look at launch films, uses a highly advanced SGI imaging system that allows engineers to analyze launch footage, frame by frame, in resolution that exceeds HD quality.
  • Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA). A full range of SGI technologies, including NASA's Columbia supercomputer, comprised of 10,240 Intel Itanium 2 processors, are being used to support several of the agency's Return to Flight activities. These activities include: investigation and analyses of cracks in the main propulsion system's fuel line; aerodynamic studies of the shuttle's ascent; debris transport analyses; development of an automated plotting tool for debris paths; and internal and external aerothermal fluid dynamics studies.
  • Michoud Assembly Facility. This government-owned component of Marshall Space Flight Center is using SGI technology to complete impact analysis simulations of foam, ice, and other debris and to model/analyze the design of the shuttle's external tank.

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