On Monday, a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship will carry a wealth of experiments to the International Space Station after a projected launch from Kennedy Space Center. Instruments on board will enable the astronauts on the station to study cosmic ray particles, protein crystal growth, and stem cell-mediated recellularization. A nanosatellite technology demonstration will also be on board.
We covered one of these not long ago – the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (ISS-CREAM) instrument will be attached to the outside of the Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility in order to study the composition of cosmic ray particles. This will answer questions about where cosmic ray particles come from and whether the entire energy spectra of the rays results from a single mechanism.
But the mission will also likely include a computer from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The 1 teraflop computer isn’t groundbreaking on its own, but it’s the fastest computer ever sent into space, and could pave the way for “smart” spacecraft able to navigate beyond the Moon.
The computer will run continuously while it’s aboard the station, enabling the crew to study the effects of the radiation environment. An identical computer will be kept on Earth in order to provide a control.
While future “smart” computers may be used to make course corrections or other critical decisions on board a spacecraft at speeds faster than a human could, payload engineer Mark Fernandez told Ars Technica that the first use of this type of computer on the space station is likely to be automation of data processing for other scientific experiments.
The cargo ship will also carry “plant pillows” packed with seeds to be included in the microgravity fresh food production system called “Veggie.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense