Alphacore, with their research partner Vanderbilt University, propose innovative strategies based on a complete system analysis of High Performance Computing (HPC) Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) parts. The use of COTS in space for electronics is a potential significant enabler for many capabilities during a mission. This STTR project will provide a better understanding of the feasibility of COTS electronics for HPC in space environments which are already heavily shielded. The proposed strategies include, but are not limited to, failure modes to mitigate radiation induced impacts to potential HPC systems in those highly shielded space environments, such as manned missions and human habitats.
The methodology includes modeling for an appropriate space relevant environment, plus testing in an appropriate space relevant environment (e.g., in particle beams). Further, since all parts in such HPC systems cannot be tested, we will develop a method for understanding of what parts are susceptible to radiation damage, which is crucial to create the list of potential test candidates.
In Phase I, the Alphacore + Vanderbilt team will develop a plan/strategy explaining a detailed approach solving the problem that helps NASA mitigate radiation induced failures in the HPC system/components, identify COTS equipment that are likely candidates based on environmentally relevant testing, as well as modeling of interior environment and data analysis of similarly known/used approaches like the Orion vehicle testing (EM-1 when released).
An HPC ecosystem is of interest to all major programs in Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Immediate infusion targets include Mars Fetch Rover, WFIRST/Chronograph, Gateway, SPLICE/Lunar Lander. Desired deliverables with regards to hardware elements include a preliminary detailed design ready for fabrication and productization.
The results from this project will be relevant to any NASA mission or project and any space mission that intends to send humans beyond LEO (Low Earth Orbit) with a High-Performance Computing (HPC) system. An HPC ecosystem is also of interest to Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Immediate infusion targets include Mars Fetch Rover, WFIRST/Chronograph, Gateway, SPLICE/Lunar Lander. This proposal addresses the NASA needs described in the latest 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps such as Space Weather Forecasting.
Private enterprises that have based their business on spaceflight can make use of this technology to reduce their loads when embarking on missions to space. Future constellations of small communications satellites will blanket the Earth with Internet connectivity as well. Other countries are also participating in space exploration driving the global market for radiation hardened electronics.