Today – June 30th – is Asteroid Day, a day aimed at bringing the world together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, our families, communities and future generations. Asteroid Day is held on the anniversary of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history. We all know that there is a “dark menace from outer space” which is not related to Star Wars, Darth Vader and the Emperor. There exists a real threat―and I am sure nearly everyone has a picture in mind about this horror scenario, which is “asteroids can destroy our earth.”
But did you know that SUSE, the developer of the SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system, plays an integral role in helping the earth stave off the threat of asteroids through its work with a number of international space agencies? SUSE has an established position as one of the leading operating systems for high-performance computing and high availability server operations in general and supercomputers in particular, and this expertise has been brought to bear across numerous research institutions.
As an example, SUSE Linux Enterprise runs at supercomputers and ground servers at both NASA and the European Space Agency as a foundation to help them explore and understand our galaxy, and to make “less likely” such horror scenarios like the one mentioned above – through their space research programs to destroy asteroids. One of the projects NASA and ESA are collaborating also with other international space agencies is the Asteroid Impact Project (AIM) which targets Didymoon, an asteroid predicted to get very close to earth in 2022. And plans of the space agency go above and beyond that:
NASA uses supercomputers such as Pleiades (which runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) to design and develop “science fiction” technology like hypersonic aircrafts and spacesuits and to simulate the landing of spacecrafts on various celestial bodies such as the Moon, Mars, Titan and asteroids in order to explore them, redirect them or, ultimately, to save our earth by destroying targeted asteroids.
Collectively, projects based on Linux are helping to foster research in a range of space related areas, giving these scientific bodies the ability to conduct scientific research in a cost-effective manner. The Linux and Open Source community plays a significant role in furthering the cause of science, and it makes a particularly strong contribution in the field of supercomputing. Research requires the most scalable, reliable, powerful and high-performance computing environments to ensure success, and the vast majority depend on Linux. Asteroid Day is an opportunity for us to recognize the importance of IT in furthering all scientific causes, regardless of the field.
However, the real cool thing about Linux and High Performance Computing (HPC) in my view is that it is not only used for future threats or for “spacy and fancy” projects and research; you can find it everywhere in our normal daily life. It contributes to driving a car (computer aided design), heating our houses (oil and gas exploration), watching a 3D animated movie (movie rendering and special effects creation), planning our weekend trip (weather forecasting), and many other areas. Curious now? More to come ….