Computer 03

Innovative HPC Applications at NASA in Earth & Space Science

Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 11:30am – 1:00pm, Hall B2.1

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In addition to manned space-flight exploration, NASA’s mission is to improve life on earth by understanding and protecting our home planet, and to explore the solar system and the universe. Over the past decades, NASA’s earth-orbiting satellites and solar system spacecraft have been actively collecting large amounts of data. Analysis of this data has lead to the development of new simulation models, and more recently to major improvements in forecasting capabilities, all of which are requiring increasing amounts of high-performance computing resources.

This session will focus on three different NASA projects that are very actively using high-performance computing resources. Each of these projects has pushed their respective envelopes, both in developing new models and new simulations techniques, as well in the use of supercomputers for running their simulations. None of these developments would have been possible without NASA’s advanced computational capabilities, which provide access to thousands of computational processors with large, fast memory and storage capabilities.

Dr. Anita Sengupta, Senior Systems Engineer, EDL & Advanced Technologies, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
High-Fidelity Computational Analysis of Supersonic Mars Parachute Systems
The first talk describes the modelling techniques used in the design of the supersonic parachute systems for the entry, descent and landing phase of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. The work presented includes a unique fluid structure interaction (FSI) simulation capability that couples a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver with a computational solid dynamics (CSD) solver. The former includes Large Eddy Simulation (LES) and Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) techniques, while the latter uses membrane and thin shell finite-element techniques. The simulations are validated by wind tunnel tests of rigid parachute and entry-vehicle models.

Dr. William M. Putman, Lead, Advanced Software Technology Group, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA
Mesoscale Weather & Climate Modeling with the Global Non-Hydrostatic Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS-5) at Cloud-Permitting Resolutions
The second talk reports on the development of the extremely high-resolution Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS-5) global climate model. This model is capable of resolving regional weather/climate impacts and mesoscale features including hurricane inner-core structures, tropical convection, stratocumulus cloud formations in the marine layer, cumulus cloud streets, and von Kármán vortices, while maintaining consistency with the prevailing large-scale circulation in a single atmospheric model. This work places NASA at the forefront in scientific exploration of our atmosphere and climate, and is capable of providing more accurate initial conditions for weather forecasting models.

Dr. Eric Larour, Software Engineer, Ice Sheet System Model Project, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Large-Scale Modelling of Greenland & Antarctica Ice Flows Using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM), a Massively Parallelised Finite Element Code
The third talk covers a new ice flow model called Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This software is capable of modeling the evolution of ice caps, using the finite element method. It is a massively parallel simulation, relying on the PETSc library to support parallel operations, and is hosted in Matlab. ISSM is implemented in C/C++ to allow for modular design, which is necessary to accommodate the great range of physics captured in iceflow models. The model addresses the challenges of predicting future sea-level rise on a global scale, where a major component of the challenge is the modeling of ice-mass balance evolution in Greenland and Antarctica.

This session will give an exciting perspective on the application of high-performance computing in earth and space science research at NASA. It will be of interest to members of the earth and space science research community, as well as others who are interested in understanding more about how high-performance computing is playing an important role in these fields.