beowulf in space

astroguy at astroguy at
Mon Apr 14 15:40:57 EDT 2003

Hi list,
Ok, you computer genius and rocket scientist all... I tend to agree with Dr.Brown's position but for the sake of argument... Let's think of along the lines of where a computational cluster might find some in space application.  Say for example we were to launch a probe into the Sun's  outer corona... let assume also that we have some shielding device that would sustain the craft in the 10 million degree C or so that such a craft is sure to encounter... Even with our best science fiction such a craft could only endure a few precious moments in such a space environment, so we would have to use the advantage of speed... Ok, so we use an ion engine to get the craft up to speed... since the sun's corona extends apparently 700,000 km or so into space... the craft would have to get up to a speed say 250,000 mph.  Which we have yet to achieve but not impossible... Sling shot around Jupiter and Mars and back to the sun with the ion engine in a bit of celestial magic provided by or on!
 ground navigational cluster... certainly we can achieve a very high velocity for our death plunge into the Sun's outer atmosphere... Computational real time observations within those few precious moments before the probe vaporised would certainly be enhanced by an on board beowulf cluster... You asked for speculation, as to an application... I think this is perhaps one.
> From: Mark Hahn <hahn at>
> Date: 2003/04/14 Mon PM 02:46:05 EDT
> To: chettri at
> CC: beowulf at
> Subject: Re: beowulf in space
> > Has anybody considered the theoretical aspects of placing beowulfs on a 
> > cluster of satellites?
> if this interests you, I highly recommend reading Vernor Vinge's 
> recent books (A Deepness in the Sky, for instance).  Robert Forward
> has some topical ones, too.  they are science fiction, though...
> > I understand that communication will be slower AND 
> > unreliable,
> well, to the extent that such a cluster would be spread out,
> I can understand the "slower" part.  though c in vacuum is higher
> than c in fiber or TP.
> I don't see the "unreliable" part.  are you presuming some kind of 
> traditional RF modulation?  using free-space optics seems like the 
> more obvious way to network satellites, and I don't see why that would
> be flakey.
> > and it would restrict the set of problems that could be solved. I'm looking 
> > for papers/tech reps etc on the subject.
> I doubt they exist, simply because there's no practical reason,
> given the huge cost and unclear advantage.
> I can imagine some really great advertisements for colo though ;)
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