[Beowulf] Why We Need a Supercomputer on the Moon

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.com.pl
Mon Oct 15 21:37:29 PDT 2012

On Tue, 16 Oct 2012, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:

> On 10/15/12 4:09 PM, "Tomasz Rola" <rtomek at ceti.com.pl> wrote:
> >On Tue, 2 Oct 2012, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
> >
> >[...]
> >> IN any case, a few years back, I did a design for a >100Mbps link back
> >> from Jupiter, and there was nothing particularly bold or unobtainium
> >>about
> >> it, except the dollar cost and the electrical power requirement.
> >
> >Cool. It would be nice to have kind of live transmission from next probe
> >somewhere there. All those Jupiter ascents and descents, watched from a
> >"window inside a monitor". Almost like being there, minus pesky AI trying
> >to freeze me out of the ship and stupid####### benevolent aliens trying
> >to 
> >lure me into journey to nowhere...
> I will assure you that we do not have an AE35 unit in our antenna control
> logic, failed or not.  Interestingly, though, an optical tracker isn't a
> bad idea for this kind of thing.. Earth is very bright (unless it's
> between you and the Sun, in which case tracking the Sun works..).

Oh really. I feel better now :-)

> >BTW, I think I never have been a big fan of sending supercomp up there.
> >At 
> >least not after I learned that space is nasty place to live without good
> >shielding. I guess this haven't changed recently? Also, CPUs being sent
> >there are actually special radiation-hardened versions AFAIK, and I think
> >much more pressure is put on their reliability than speed.
> Interestingly, modern standard parts tend to be pretty rad tolerant.  To
> make them work with such tiny geometries, they have to be very heavily
> doped, so even if you dump a bunch of charge carriers in with a cosmic
> ray, it still doesn't change the behavior.  The other thing is that with
> the geometry being so small, the probability of hitting any one device is
> small.

Interesting. I didn't think about this.

> >So they are not 
> >quite good as supercomp building blocks and average PC is no good when
> >being zapped by ultrafast particles every few minutes or exposed to CMEs
> >from the Sun...
> Not as bad as all that.  I've actually been looking for an actual
> documented instance of a commercial non-space part failing in space.
> There's quite a few flying, but nobody has been able to point to a
> specific case.

I see. But, do you know how far away from Earth those parts were 
traveling? I understand that the farther they will go, the worse they will 
fare (a rather simplistic way to say it, since this is probably more 

Atmosphere and magnetosphere give us (and our computers) quite good 
protection. But on Moon's orbit, no more. For one example, there was solar 
storm between Apollo 16 returned home and 17 started. But it seems 
astronauts would easily survive if they stayed inside, from what they 
write here:


So, I take it the people are going to be safe. Do you think computers 
would be safe, too? I mean off the shelf equipment.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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