Experiments supported by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory continue to capture attention, thanks to the unique capabilities of the ISS that enable research possible nowhere on Earth.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) recent developments in next-generation computing were covered in a feature by Microsoft, highlighting the power of HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2) that launched to the ISS earlier this year. HPE previously leveraged the ISS National Lab to validate innovative software in the supercomputer’s predecessor, SBC-1, that “hardened” it against the harsh conditions of space.
SBC-2 builds on that technology with twice the processing power and additional artificial intelligence and edge processing capabilities, including the capability to automatically “burst” excess information to ground-based servers, freeing up computing space on station. The upgrades allow SBC-2 to process large data sets and high-resolution imagery onboard the ISS without the need to transmit large packets of data to Earth for analysis, saving significant time and network bandwidth. This could allow researchers to achieve quicker results and enable real-time iteration of experiments on the ISS.
Read more about SBC-2:
• Microsoft: "Cloud ‘data bursts’ from space move astronauts closer to Mars—and improve life on Earth”
• ISS National Lab Upward feature: “One the Edge of the Edge: Taking Supercomputing to Space”
• ISS National Lab ISS360 guest contribution: “The Spaceborne Computer Returns to the ISS”
The University of Notre Dame also spotlighted ISS National Lab-sponsored research in a feature on their website. Tengfei Luo, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, is leveraging the ISS National Lab to study bubble dynamics on nanostructured surfaces in microgravity. Luo’s investigation generated unexpected results, defying expectations about how bubbles behave without the buoyancy-driven convection forces present on Earth.
Heat-generated bubbles can be used as a technology to concentrate biological molecules in liquid samples. This allows researchers to detect molecular markers of disease circulating in the blood even at low concentrations or remove contaminants that may inhibit clinical assays. Further study of Luo’s results may reveal new information about the fundamental physical forces behind bubble formation that lead to new approaches for cancer treatment and the desalination and purification of water.