ISS Getting Cutting Edge Spaceborne Computer This Weekend. HAL 9000, Anyone?

Hewlett Packard Spaceborne Computer-2 1 photo
Photo: Hewlett Packard
Every time the words “artificial intelligence in space” are used together, our minds cannot help from bringing back the memory of Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000. Especially when they’re not used in some theoretical way, but practically, like Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced it will do as of this weekend.
This Saturday, February 20, a Northrop Grumman resupply mission to the International Space Station will carry with it HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2), the successor of a similar machine tested by the company on the space station in 2017, only twice as capable.

HPE says that for the next two or three years, the machine will help astronauts up there and scientists down here process the data they need for their experiments much faster than ever before, at times cutting “time-to-insight from months to minutes.”

This super-speed will be possible especially when it comes to processing medical imaging, DNA sequencing, and unlocking key insights from "volumes of remote sensors and satellites," says HPE. More importantly, the computer will play a major part in providing communications’ assistance for the future crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

This is possible thanks to the way the computer was made. SBC-2 uses the HPE Edgeline Converged Edge system, the HPE ProLiant server, and powerful graphic processing units. It will also run Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service for an extra kick of power.

HPE calls the SBC-2 the “first-ever in-space commercial edge computing and artificial intelligence capabilities,” but does not go into the details of what AI means in this case.

“We are honored to make edge computing in space possible and through our longstanding partnerships with NASA and the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, we are looking forward to powering new, exciting research opportunities to make breakthrough discoveries for humanity,” said in a statement Dr. Mark Fernandez, principal investigator for the Spaceborne Computer-2.

For more info on the new hardware, check out the press release section below.
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Press Release
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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