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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time. Should you?

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time to see our universe more clearly.

When light from a star enters the Earth's atmosphere, turbulence caused by different temperature layers and wind speeds can distort the image in various ways, making it difficult to see. Astronomers use adaptive optics (AO) to improve imaging performance. They accurately measure these distortions and compensate for them by making minute adjustments to their optical systems.

The Palomar Observatory, located in north San Diego County, California, is a world-class center of astronomical research that is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. The Mount Palomar 200-inch Hale telescope adaptive optics system (PALM-3000) is an instrument designed to overcome the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere and enable direct imaging of worlds in orbit around nearby stars. It is a high-precision upgrade to its successful Palomar Adaptive Optics System, with several unique technical innovations:

  • The world's highest actuator count deformable mirror (3388 active actuators)
  • An innovative wavefront processing computer based on a cluster of off-the-shelf graphics cards
  • A flexible wavefront sensor with 8x8 to 63x63 samples across the pupil

The AO system must be able to compute a full vector matrix multiply to reconstruct the wavefront at up to 2 KHz with latency under 250 μs. Hale Telescope's AO system uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time to optimize the operations of its high performance graphics cards and custom software in order to meet these requirements.

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