‘Star Trek, not Star Wars:’ NASA releases basic principles for moon exploration pact – Benchmarking Change- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NASA on Friday set the stage for a global debate over the basic principles governing how humans will live and work on the moon, as it released the main tenets of an international pact for moon exploration called the Artemis Accords.
The accords seek to establish ‘safety zones’ that would surround future moon bases to prevent what the US Tempemail Aeronautics and Space Administration called “harmful interference” from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.
They would also permit companies to own the lunar resources they mine, a crucial element in allowing NASA contractors to convert the moon’s water ice for rocket fuel or mine lunar minerals to construct landing pads.
The accords are a key part of NASA’s effort to court allies around its plan to build a long-term presence on the lunar surface under its Artemis moon programme.
“What we’re doing is we are implementing the Outer Space Treaty with the Artemis Accords,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told Reuters, referring to a 1967 international pact that emphasizes that space should be used for peaceful rather than military uses.
The framework will be used as an incentive for nations to adhere to US norms of behaviour in space, he added.
“It applies to low Earth orbit, it applies to the moon as well,” Bridenstine said. The accords also require countries to adopt standards of the United Nations Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines — which govern the prevention of hazardous space debris — and the Registration Convention, which would require countries to provide orbital details of their “space objects.”
The US Congress passed a law in 2015 allowing companies to own the resources they mine in outer space, but no such laws exist in the international community. The Artemis Accords, consistent with the Trump administration’s space policy, appear to clear the way for companies to mine the moon under international law and urge countries to enact similar national laws that would bind their private sector’s space operations. 
“Why would private companies take the risk of going to mine resources if the legal situation was they could be kept from owning them?” Lori Garver, former deputy administrator of NASA, said to Reuters. “So anything this does to clear any of that up could really help advance progress in space development.”  
China and Russia
Reuters reported earlier this month that the administration of US President Donald Trump was drawing up the Artemis Accords.
In response, Russia’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin criticized Washington for excluding Russia from early negotiations over the space exploration pact, drawing parallels with US foreign policy in the Middle East.
“The principle of invasion is the same, whether it be the Moon or Iraq. The creation of a ‘coalition of the willing’ is initiated,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter. “Only Iraq or Afghanistan will come out of this.”
China said it was willing to cooperate with all parties on lunar exploration “to make a greater contribution in building a community with shared future for mankind,” a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said in a statement faxed to Reuters.
The safety zones — while intended to encourage coordination — have prompted questions on whether the accords align with the Outer Space Treaty, which states the moon and other celestial bodies are “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
The size of the safety zones would vary depending on the nature of the site they surround and would not constitute appropriation, Bridenstine said.
They would follow the principle that “basically says I’m gonna stay out of your way, you’re gonna stay out of my way, and we can all operate in this space,” he added.
However, there is a question over who determines the sizes of the safety zones, said Ram Jakhu, associate professor at McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law in Canada. “Safety zones are necessary, but they can also be abused in a way that it may become appropriation.”
But Mike Gold, NASA’s associate administrator for international relations, told Reuters the language on moon mining shouldn’t worry other nations.
“The principles that are being put forward here is nothing that we believe any responsible spacefaring nation would disagree with,” he said.
“Via the Artemis Accords, we hope that the future will look a lot more like “Star Trek,” and a lot less like “Star Wars” by getting ahead of these issues,” Gold said.

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Musk’s SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin land contracts to build NASA’s astronaut moon lander – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NASA on Thursday selected space firms SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to build lunar landing systems that can carry astronauts to the moon by 2024, the White House’s accelerated deadline under the space agency’s moon-to-Mars campaign.
The three companies, which include firms of tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, will share US$967 million from NASA.
Details on specific amounts each company will receive were not immediately known.
Boeing Co , a NASA contractor and one of the companies that bid for this contract, was not selected.
Unlike the Apollo program that put astronauts on the moon 50 years ago, NASA is gearing up for a long-term presence on Earth’s satellite that the agency says will eventually enable humans to reach Mars.
The next manned mission to the moon will require leaps in robotic technologies and a plan for NASA to work with the three companies to design and develop human landing systems.
“We are following through on the president’s space policy directive,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, calling the selection “historic”. 
Picking three providers allows NASA to have redundancy in case one company falls behind in development, Lisa Watson-Morgan, NASA’s human landing system program manager, told reporters on Thursday. 
Last year, Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s design for the lunar lander, Blue Moon, it intends to build as a prime contractor with Lockheed Martin , Northrop Grumman and Draper. Blue Origin plans to launch its landing system using its own heavy-lift rocket, New Glenn.
Musk’s SpaceX, which is on the cusp of launching its first manned mission for NASA next month, will develop its Starship landing system to send crew and up to 100 pounds of cargo to the moon.
Dynetics, a space firm recently acquired by Leidos Holdings Inc , will manage a team of 25 partners to develop its human landing system that Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance will launch on its Vulcan launch system.

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White House calls for biggest NASA budget in decades to reach the moon, Mars – Finance- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The White House on Monday asked Congress for US$25.2 billion (A$37.4 billion) for NASA in 2021, the agency’s biggest budget in decades, calling for steady increases over five years to meet President Donald Trump’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon and Mars.
The request would boost the Tempemail Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget by 12 percent for the fiscal year that starts October 1, with nearly half of the funds going toward the “Moon to Mars” program, which includes development of lunar landers, robotic rovers, heavy-lift rockets and new spacesuits.
“They are backing up our vision for a renewed era of discovery by giving NASA ever-increasing budgets every year,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Monday after the White House released its plan. “Now we must deliver.”
The Trump administration called on NASA early last year to reorganise its exploration program to send humans to the moon by 2024 and to Mars in the next decade, accelerating a previous timeline and increasing its 2020 budget by US$1.6 billion.
The 2021 fiscal year budget, one of the largest overall spending increases for NASA since the 1990s, doubles down on the “Moon to Mars” project, which NASA projects will cost US$71.1 billion over the next five years, according to a blueprint sent to Congress on Monday.
NASA’s budget is estimated to increase steadily over the next five years to fund the program, peaking at US$28.3 billion in fiscal year 2023, primarily going to privately developed lunar landing systems. 
The budget includes US$529 million for robotic trips to Mars, including a mission to return soil samples back to Earth and map near-surface water ice deposits that could inform future human missions to the red planet.
Separately, the Trump administration’s US$740.5 billion budget request for national defence in 2021 allocates US$15.4 billion for the US Space Force, which was established on December 20 as an independent service under the Air Force.

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ESA researchers built a plant that can extract oxygen from the moon – Blog – 10 minute

The final frontier: European scientist are hoping they can send an oxygen plant to the moon for a sustainable long-term mission. The facility would convert moon dust into breathable oxygen for the settlers. The mission is still quite far out, but the team hopes to have a viable demonstration of the technology by the middle of this decade.
European Space Agency (ESA) researchers have begun extracting oxygen from simulated moon dust. A reclamation plant has been built at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands that can remove and harness oxygen from lunar regolith. The process leaves behind a mixture of metal alloys, which might also be recycled.
The ESA envisions the oxygen and leftover byproducts being used by lunar settlers for breathable air and rocket fuel.
Simulated lunar soil before (left) and after (right) oxygen extraction
“Having our own facility allows us to focus on oxygen production, measuring it with a mass spectrometer as it is extracted from the regolith simulant,” notes Beth Lomax, lead researcher from the University of Glasgow. “Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel.”
While the researchers currently use simulated regolith because of the rarity of actual samples, tests with small amounts of returned moon dust show that it is made up of about 40-45 percent oxygen. It is, in fact, the most abundant element in the material, but is chemically bound to oxides.
The extraction method, called “molten salt electrolysis,” superheats the dust to break the oxide bonds. The regolith is placed in a container with molten calcium chloride salt, which serves as an electrolyte. It is then heated to 950 degrees Celsius. The dust remains solid at this temperature. Then electrical current is run through it, separating the oxygen, which flows through the salt and is collected in an anode.

The method is not novel. It was developed by UK-based Metalysis for metal and alloy production. However, in that capacity, oxygen was an unwanted byproduct that was released instead of collected. In this instance, the alloys are the byproduct, but ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse mentioned that they are also interested in what they could do with the metals.
“The production process leaves behind a tangle of different metals,” said Meurisse. “and this is another useful line of research, to see what are the most useful alloys that could be produced from them, and what kind of applications could they be put to.”
The current harvesting plant expels the oxygen as CO2 exhaust, but they plan to modify it to store the element. The ESA eventually wants to transport a version to the moon. The team should have a tech demo ready some time between 2024 and 2026.

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Scientists propose ‘Spaceline’ elevator to the Moon – gpgmail


Fans of sci-fi and fringe tech may already be familiar with the idea of the “space elevator,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — and totally impossible with today’s technology. But a pair of scientists think they’ve found an alternative: a Moon elevator. And it’s slightly less insane… technically.

The idea of the space elevator, first explored in detail by Arthur C. Clarke in his novel “The Fountains of Paradise,” is essentially a tower so tall it reaches space. Instead of launching ships and materials from the surface of the Earth to orbit, you just put them in the elevator of this tower and when they reach the top, somewhere about 26,000 miles up in geosynchronous orbit, they’re already beyond gravity’s pull, for all intents and purposes.

It’s a fun idea, but the simple fact is that this tower would need to be so strong to support its own weight, and that of the counterweight at the far end, that no known material or even reasonably hypothetical one will do it. Not by a long shot. So the space elevator has remained well on the “fiction” side of science fiction since its first proposal. Hasn’t stopped people from patenting it, though.

But what if I told you that we could make a space elevator even bigger, with materials available today? You’d say I am completely unqualified to engineer such a structure — and you’d be right. But two astronomers from Cambridge and Columbia Universities think they’ve got an alternative. They call it the Spaceline.

The secret is in abandoning the entire concept of anchoring the space elevator to the surface of the Earth. Instead they propose a tower or cable extending the other direction: From the surface of the Moon to geosynchronous orbit around the planet.

Unsurprisingly, this idea has been put out there before, as early as the ’70s. But as Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandford put it in their paper:

We present the derivations herein as a full standalone mathematical and physical description of the concept, one that we and authors before us have been surprised to find is eminently plausible and may have been overlooked as a major step in the development of our capacity as a species to move within our solar system.

Math by Cambridge and Columbia. Diagram by MS Paint.

In other words, others have suggested it before, but they did the math. And it actually works out. And it might only cost a few billion dollars.

The Spaceline would be more like a skyhook than a tower. A thin, strong piece of material (think the width of a pencil lead) that extends about 225,000 miles from the surface of the Moon to a safe distance above the planet, where it won’t interfere with satellites or encounter our pesky atmosphere.

Anyone interested in going to the Moon would simply launch to the correct orbit height and sync up with the tip of the Spaceline, where there would no doubt be a station of some kind. From there they could use solar-powered propulsion to zip along the line, no fuel required. At the other end, they simply slow down and have a soft landing at lunar orbit or whatever surface facility we put on the regolith there.

Importantly, the Spaceline would pass through the Earth-Moon Lagrange point, where there is effectively zero gravity and no other physical interference, making construction and storage a snap.

Having only a small team of scientists and engineers at such a base camp would allow hand construction and maintenance of a new generation of space based experiments – one could imagine telescopes, particle accelerators, gravitational wave detectors, vivariums, power generation and launch points for missions to the rest of the solar system.

Sounds nicer than the tiny Lunar Gateway NASA has planned.

While the researchers say this is “not idle theorycrafting,” it most certainly is, with the caveat that the theory is more realistic than a famously unrealistic one no one takes seriously. Still, the possibility is tantalizing now that someone has crunched the numbers. Perhaps one of these space-bound billionaires will make a Moon elevator their next passion project.


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India loses contact with spacecraft during historic moon landing attempt – gpgmail


India’s attempt to become the first nation to soft land a robotic spacecraft at the moon’s South Pole, an unexplored region, has ended in failure, the space agency said Saturday.

Less than two miles above the lunar surface, the Vikram lander (named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program) lost communications with the mission control.

A live broadcast from ISRO, India’s equivalent of NASA, showed scientists grow tense as the control station struggled to get a signal from the lander.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was watching the landing attempt, offered words of encouragement to the scientists and children, who had accompanied him at the ISRO campus.

“Be courageous. Our faith in ISRO has not lost. I can proudly say that the effort was worth it and so was the journey. We are full of confidence that when it comes to our space program, the best is yet to come,” he said.

Space is hard. The lunar surface is filled with debris of spacecrafts that have attempted and failed to land in one piece. Because there is little to no atmosphere on the moon, parachutes can’t be used, leaving landers to rely completely on thrusters to modulate the speed.

Chandrayaan-2, a roughly $140 million mission, is, in part, intended to study moon craters that are believed to contain water deposits, something Chandrayaan-1 found in 2008.

A successful touchdown would have made India the fourth country to successfully complete a soft landing on the lunar surface. So far, only the former Soviet Union, the U.S., and China have accomplished it.

GettyImages 1165864210

Photo by Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images

The 142-foot tall spacecraft that blasted off Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 15, carried an orbiter, a lunar lander, and a six-wheeled rover. The lander and rover were expected to operate for just a couple of weeks, but the orbiter, which detached from the lander earlier this week, will continue to operate for at least one year.

ISRO has come a long way and specialized in low-cost space launches since the early 1960s, when components of rockets were transported by bicycles and assembled by hand in the country.

In 2013, ISRO also launched an orbiter to Mars in its maiden $74 million interplanetary mission — a fraction of the $671 million NASA spent for a Mars mission in the same year. In 2017, ISRO also deployed a record 104 satellites into space in just 18 minutes.

Earlier this year, ISRO said it intends to have its own space station in the future and conduct separate missions to study the Sun and Venus. It will begin working on its space station following its first manned mission to space, called Gaganyaan (which means “space vehicle” in Sanskrit), in 2022 — just in time to commemorate 75 years of the country’s independence from Britain. The government has sanctioned Rs 10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) for the Gaganyaan mission.




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Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 make its historic moon landing attempt right here – gpgmail


It’s a big day for India’s highly audacious Chandrayaan-2 mission. The nation will attempt to land its lunar orbit on the moon’s surface shortly as it inches closer to become the fourth in the world to complete a successful lunar landing. ISRO, India’s equivalent of NASA, will be live streaming the landing on its website, and YouTube channel.

Additionally, if you are tuning in from India, dozens of channels including Doordarshan (DD1), Disney India, National Geographic, Star Plus and Star Bharat, DD News, will live telecast the India’s mission to the moon. The landing is scheduled for between 1pm and 2pm Pacific Time (4pm to 5pm Eastern Time; 8pm to 9pm GMT).

ISRO launched its 142 feet tall spacecraft from the the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 15. The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander named Vikram (named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program), and a six-wheeled rover named Pragyaan (Sanskrit for “wisdom”). Earlier this week, the lander that carried the rover detached from the orbiter.

The mission’s budget is just $141 million, significantly lower than those of other countries, and less than half of the recently released blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame.”

Commenting on the landing, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be watching the nation’s attempt at the moon landing from ISRO’s office, said earlier today that, “India, and the rest of the world will yet again see the exemplary prowess of our space scientists.”

Chandrayaan-2 aims to land on a plain surface that covers the ground between two of the moon’s craters, Simpelius N and Manzinus C — that is about 375 miles from the South Pole. It’s an understudied region that no one has seen closely yet.

NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger, said in a televised program today, “I just want everyone to know that the whole world is following this and it is not just Indians. This is the first time any country is going to the South Pole of the moon! India is leading this and as a representative of the US, we are nervous and we are hoping for success. This increases the knowledge base of the moon.”


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Disney introduces “She Hulk”, “Moon Knight” and “Ms. Marvel” to Disney+ streaming service – gpgmail


As part of its big reveal of the slate of shows coming to Disney+ streaming service, Marvel head Kevin Feige introduced three new shows that would be joining the Marvel pantheon: “She Hulk”, “Moon Knight” and “Ms. Marvel” as part of the expanded Marvel Universe.

Ms. Marvel tells the story of teenager Kamela Khan, who was Marvel’s first Muslim character to lead her own series. A Pakistani-American from New Jersey, Khan can changer he shape.

Moon Knight is based on the character Marc Specter who is a mercenary left for dead in the Egyptian desert who is imbued with special powers by a spiritual force. And She Hulk is the story of Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, who in the comics receives a blood transfusion from her relative and is transformed into her own version of the Hulk.

Other revelations from the Marvel portion of the big Disney+ presentation included the full cast for the WandaVision show, which Feige described as a combination sitcom and traditional marvel epic.

Old Marvel favorites including Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis and Randall Park as Agent Wu from the “Ant Man” movies will make appearances in the Wanda/Vision show.

Also rejoining the Marvel Universe is Emily Van Camp reprising her role as Sharon Carter, the daughter of Peggy Carter. She’ll make her appearance in Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

The expansion of the MCU with these three new shows is indicative of how deep a bench of intellectual property Disney has at its disposal to flesh out its streaming service. It can also serve to dull the pain some fans may feel at the loss of the Netflix-licensed characters like Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist (somebody liked it), and Jessica Jones.

These choices also indicate how Disney is growing its roster of women in the MCU taking the role of superheroes, which comes on the back of the success of Captain Marvel.

 

 


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Japan’s ispace now aims for a lunar landing in 2021, and a Moon rover deployment in 2023 – gpgmail


One of the private companies aiming to deliver a commercial lunar lander to the Moon has adjusted the timing for its planned mission, which isn’t all that surprising given the enormity of the task. Japanese startup ispace is now targeting 2021 for their first lunar landing, and 2023 for a second lunar mission that will also include deploying a rover on the Moon’s surface.

The company’s ‘HAKUTO-R’ program was originally planned to to include a mission in 2020 that would involve sending a lunar orbital vehicle for demonstration purposes without any payloads, but that part of the plan has been scrapped in favor of focusing all efforts on delivering actual payloads for commercial customers by 2021 instead.

This updated focus, the company says, is due mostly to the speeding up of the global market for private launch services and payload delivery, including for things like NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, wherein the agency is looking for a growing number of private contractors to support its own needs in terms of getting stuff to the Moon.

ispace itself isn’t on the list of 9 companies selected in round one of NASA’s program, but the Japanese company is supporting American non-profit Draper in its efforts, which was one fo the chosen. The Draper/ispace team-up happened after ispace’s initial commitment to its 2020 orbital demo, so its change in priorities makes sense given the new tie-up.

HAKUTO-R will use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for its first missions, and the company has also signed partnerships with JAXA, Japan’s space agency, as well as new corporate partners including Suzuki, Sumitomo Corporation, Shogakukan, and Citizen Watch.


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NASA’s new HPE-built supercomputer will prepare for landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon – gpgmail


NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have teamed up to build a new supercomputer, which will serve NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and develop models and simulations of the landing process for Artemis Moon missions.

The new supercomputer is called ‘Aitken,’ named after American astronomer Robert Grant Aitken, and it can run simulations at up to 3.69 petaFLOPs of theoretical performance power. Aitken is custom-designed by HPE and NASA to work with the Ames modular data centre, which is a project it undertook starting in 2017 to massively reduce the amount of water and energy used in cooling its supercomputing hardware.

Aitken employs second generation Intel Xeon processors, Mellanox InfiniBand high-speed networking, and has 221 TB of memory on board for storage. It’s the result of four years of collaboration between NASA and HPE, and it will model different methods of entry, descent and landing for Moon-destined Artemis spacecraft, running simulations to determine possible outcomes and help determine the best, safest approach.

This isn’t the only collaboration between HPE and NASA: The enterprise computer maker built a new kind of supercomputer able to withstand the rigors of space for the agency, and sent it up to the ISS in 2017 for preparatory testing ahead of potential use on longer missions, including Mars. The two partners then opened that supercomputer for use in third-party experiments last year.

HPE also announced earlier this year that it was buying supercomputer company Cray for $1.3 billion. Cray is another long-time partner of NASA’s supercomputing efforts, dating back to the space agency’s establishment of a dedicated computational modelling division and the establishing of its Central Computing Facility at Ames Research Center.


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