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Tracking Near-Earth Meteors With a 1.1 Petabyte Database

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the outer-space-and-computing-make-for-big-numbers dept.

Space 72

Lucas123 writes "The latest and most ambitious attempt to detect 'near-Earth objects' (NEOs) is the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS. When it's fully operational several years from now, it will have four telescopes, each with a 1.4-gigapixel camera. The system is expected to be able to track virtually all NEOs larger than 300 meters in diameter as well as many smaller ones. Rather than turning to an expensive supercomputer equipped with hundreds or thousands of processors, Pan-STARRS will use a cluster of 50 PC servers connected to 1.1 petabytes of disk storage via fast Infiniband networking gear."

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That's nothing (5, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533653)

Back on my C64 I used to track incoming meteors and asteroids, and then blast them into smaller polygons that were much safer, but still a nuisance.

Re:That's nothing (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533905)

Did you ever spot any flying saucers?

Re:That's nothing (1, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533945)

NASA likes to call them weather balloons.

Re:That's nothing (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534511)

NASA likes to call them weather balloons.

Oh they are indeed weather balloons... weather balloons from Betelgeuse carrying a payload suspended from the balloons, which is piloted by grey aliens.

Re:That's nothing (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534019)

Did you ever spot any flying saucers?

not yet [sonotaco.com]

Re:That's nothing (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#24548591)

Wouldn't call them safer. =)
As long as they where large, all you had to do was fly around them.
It was the myriad of fragments that killed you in the end.

Personally, I preferred the Vectrex [wikipedia.org] version over the C64 one though. =)

Found one already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533667)

Earth

Yum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533703)

Them PETA bites is tastin'...juicy.

Predicting the future (1)

sadgoblin (1269500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533701)

'near-Earth objects' (NEOs)

I see matrix jokes everywhere... By the way, why do we need this again?

good (3, Funny)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533719)

just let me know what a planet buster is about to arrive so i can mix a really strong drink and get blitzed one last time before mass extinction, at least i wont have to worry about a hangover...

Re:good (2, Funny)

Enki X (1315689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535211)

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: The effects of which are like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped 'round a large gold...meteor?

Yay for Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533721)

None of this would have been possible without them!

Whoops, how did those words go missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533855)

None of this implementation delay would have been possible without them!
(As with John Edwards, credit where due, albeit grudgingly.
Next time, use F/OSS or have a Republican do the misdeed for timely action.)

Near-Earth Meteors ? (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533741)

Meteors have to hit the Earth's atmosphere, so they are by definition near-Earth. The article is talking about near-Earth asteroids, most of which are big enough that we'll have big problems if they ever turn into meteors.

Re:Near-Earth Meteors ? (4, Interesting)

SEGT (880610) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533979)

IANAA however it is my understanding that an object is categorized a meteor or asteroid based on its size and not its presence within our atmosphere. Lets check out what Wikipedia has to say on the matter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor [wikipedia.org]

Larger than a meteoroid, the object is an asteroid; smaller than that, it is interplanetary dust.

And since this is an article dealing with NEOs...

The NEO definition includes larger objects, up to 50 m in diameter, to this category.

Re:Near-Earth Meteors ? (1)

SEGT (880610) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533997)

My bad, I was reading 'meteor' as 'meteoroid'.

Re:Near-Earth Meteors ? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 6 years ago | (#24547127)

IANAA however it is my understanding that an object is categorized a meteor or asteroid based on its size and not its presence within our atmosphere. Lets check out what Wikipedia has to say on the matter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor [wikipedia.org]

Larger than a meteoroid, the object is an asteroid; smaller than that, it is interplanetary dust.

Good homework, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, you missed the bit at the top of the page that said

"Meteor" redirects here
[...]
A meteoroid is a small sand to boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar system. The visible path of a meteoroid that enters Earth's (or another body's) atmosphere is a meteor,.

So, you're right that the article has terminological inexactitudes, but you don't get full marks because you don't work out the terminology properly.
It's a 4-way potential division, on criteria of size versus being in, or approaching, Earth's atmosphere. Large and small which are in Earth's atmosphere are meteors (there hasn't been a "large" one, greater than 0.1km, in the history of comprehensive scientific observation, with the very arguable case of Tunguska). Large, outside Earth's atmosphere is an asteroid ; small outside Earth's atmosphere is a meteoroid.
The classification as described isn't perfect. Just what would we call a Ceres-scale object that's going to hit Earth next year (it's not impossible) - meteoroid, asteroid, meteor-to-be, or just simply "Many GigaDeaths"? What would we call the next comet that follows Shoemaker-Levy-9, but does a series of aerobraking manouvers through Jupiter's atmosphere before finally crashing? It can't be a meteor, because it's not in Earth's atmosphere, but it's sure as blazes leaving long streaks of light and ionisation through AN atmosphere.
FWIW, my understanding of the term "meteoroid" included a criterion that it had reasonable potential to come into contact with Earth.

Not one of Wikipedia's better articles. I guess I'd better have a poke at it when I get off shift. (Wednesday, it looks like.)

Re:Near-Earth Meteors ? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535857)

that we'll have big problems

Indeed [geosociety.org] :) [nationalgeographic.com]

CC.

A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533743)

Sure, sounds nice, but does it run Soviet Russia's new patented overlord?

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (3, Interesting)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533971)

So what is worth tracking that is 1.1Pb of data? Are there really that many NEO that are to be concerned about? 1.1Pb is a LOT of data to manage, even with a cluster of "50 PC's". Will this data be used for modeling or just for tracking or a combination of both? I'm interested in the technical explanation for needing that large of storage.

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (1)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534097)

It probably has to do with storing massive amounts of 1.4 gigapixel images in an uncompressed format. It should roughly be about 2-4GB per image depending on what's in the image and if they do any non-lossless post compression, and considering that they're going to be receiving data from 4 telescopes, that's a lot of storage that they'll be using up in just one night's worth of images, let alone years worth of data.

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (4, Informative)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534137)

Never mind, should have read the website [hawaii.edu]

Each raw image from a single Pan-STARRS camera will contain 2 Gbytes (2 bytes per pixel). In full survey mode, typical exposures last 30 seconds, so the raw data rate is several terabytes per night for the full telescope. The amount of data produced by Pan-STARRS is so large that it will not be practical to archive every image. Software techniques are therefore being developed to extract the important information from the images, while allowing less crucial information to be discarded.

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534109)

Well. This actually is kind of obvious:

If you want to track something, you have to know that there _is_ something.
If you already know the asteroid, and have the trajectory calculated for a comparison, fine. But then you wouldnt need the survey. Its to find new/changed stuff.

So they need to have at least 1 full reference copy of the sky of the survey on storage to compare against, to look for changed "star" positions or new "points".
Most likely they would need a lot more than that, because of various reasons (observation might not be ideal in every part of the sky on each day. Or IF you have some backlog, you can imidiately try to find to object in older checkpoints (now that you know where you have to look) and calculate a trajectory, etc).

Keep in mind that a single picture of one of the 4 cameras might be easily be 5Gbyte, and you see how it adds up

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534147)

I'm with you on that one AND isn't it a bit old hat this week to refer to mere 1.1PB storage arrays as big? Don't we have news of actual databases that big or bigger?

When we have 1.5 TB drives being made ready for market isn't a PB storage system rather mundane, or at least getting there? Simple RAID-5 Terabyte arrays are common. When you split the storage space across 50 systems, meh, it doesn't really sound like that much. Sure, it's a lot of hardware, and I bet it makes some fan noise but is it really news worthy? The big news is that they are tracking a lot of objects and that is cool. Does mentioning storage space make it more important? Perhaps it's just me, but it read like a Microsoft advertisement...

Re:A 50 PC cluster that processes 1.1Pb of data? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24534243)

They are storing (almost) raw data to analyze. You can probably spot the position of some rocks in one "frame." To find their speed since the last frame, you need at least another frame. To predict their future position, a shitload more frames (remember that we can't solve meteoroid orbital equations precisely, we need many more points so the orbits can be fitted to a bunch of aproximations with lots of empirical constants).

Since now we are talking probabilities, you need a large number of measurements to improve the fit (depending on how precisely and how far ahead you want to look). For most rocks out there we don't need to be very precise since they will be obviously on safe orbits. The point is then to figure out which ones MIGHT have a chance of hitting us, for further study.

Think of it this way: suppose you are trying to catch a regular armed robber at your local 7/11: a jpeg of his face might only take 20 kB, but since the attacks are pretty infrequent and the police can't guard you 24-7, you need to figure out when you will be hit next. So, you keep a detailed log of every robbery, and a video recording of every encounter for months or years. Eventually you will get a good face shot of him and will figure out his pattern so as to know when to call the cops(e.g. comes to rob you every Tuesday after Memorial Day because he is in town visiting is aunt or something). Just like the rest of the damn kids that don't respect authority. Riding their bikes on sidewalks and talking back to grown ups. Sometimes I wonder what will ever come out of the youth today. It wasn't like that back in the good old days when we didn't have no fancy remotes or skateboards... Anyways, that's how you track asteroids that might mess up your shrubbery.

Data Analysis (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536361)

So what is worth tracking that is 1.1Pb of data? Are there really that many NEO that are to be concerned about? 1.1Pb is a LOT of data to manage, even with a cluster of "50 PC's". Will this data be used for modeling or just for tracking or a combination of both? I'm interested in the technical explanation for needing that large of storage.

My dad is currently in Hawaii, working on the data analysis software for Pan-STARRS, so I have a vague idea of what it is about.

It's not the NEO that use 1.1Pb of data, it's storage of the raw (high resolution) data from the telescope. In fact, I'm not even sure they CAN archive all the images.

The point of having it is finding NEO, computing their orbits, so we can be able to predict our doom (and maybe do something about it before it happens).

Actually I think the system also has civilian space-flight applications (finding space debris)
as well as military ones.

In case of Armageddon (2, Funny)

runlevelfour (1329235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533781)

Good thing that the meteors are being tracked so meticulously. That way if a big "planet ender" comes close enough we can send a crack team of entertaining miners up to plant nuclear devices on it. Oh and they better shell out a bit extra for a bitchin' soundtrack to go with it.

Re:In case of Armageddon (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533871)

Don't forget the animal crackers!

Re:In case of Armageddon (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533951)

Do animals have good security?

Re:In case of Armageddon (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533991)

I think I'd rather drill Liv Tyler than the meteor to be honest (although I'm sure my wife would disagree).

C++ ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533789)

Never heard of astronomers programming in C++.. could anyone explain that one?

Re:C++ ? (1)

XHIIHIIHX (918333) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534713)

all the good high precision math junk is in c++.

"...Near-Earth Meteors..." (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533827)

Perhaps you might want to read up on just what a meteor [wikipedia.org] actually is. Hint: all meteors are "near Earth".

SQL eh? (4, Funny)

needs2bfree (1256494) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533835)

If i ever discover a NEO, im nameing it 17234 XKCD); DROP TABLE asteroids;

Re:SQL eh? (2, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533877)

No THX-1138 XKCD); DROP TABLE asteroids;

Re:SQL eh? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533891)

Asteroid 17234 has the temporary name of 2000 EL11, so maybe for a suitable donation to the discoverer you could get your wish.

Hang on (2, Interesting)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533867)

Its more important to focus on lenses rather than megapixels, having good glass is more important in order to gain a better quality image... oh wait!

Re:Hang on (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534161)

No, this is the right way to do it because they are not looking at distant objects like stars or galaxies. NEOs reflect enough light to be seen easily. The problem is with having a large enough field with a large enough resolution that you can scan the sky fast and process the data automatically. A camera with a huge resolution is perfect for the job.

Re:Hang on (5, Informative)

dierdorf (37660) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534919)

Actually, Pan-STARRS is the el cheapo quick and dirty version of the near-Earth survey. Look up the LSST (the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), currently under construction. http://www.lsst.org/ [lsst.org]

  • Ten times as sensitive (an 8-meter mirror) so it can detect down to 100m objects -- thirty times as small.
  • A 3.2 Gpixel camera.
  • An image every 15 seconds, doing a complete raster scan of the sky every three days.
  • 30 TBytes of data PER NIGHT, and they plan to keep it all for ten years.

Google volunteered to be involved in the data handling, and Bill Gates and Charles Simonyi have contributed 30 million dollars to the construction. During the initial design, the astronomers actually said, "By the time the LSST goes online (2014) we expect that Moore's Law will allow us to process the data stream."

Re: LSST will just be the latest in a line. (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24540029)

Sure, but by the time LSST goes online (2014), PS1 (the prototype on Maui, assuming that the full PS4 system is never even built) will have tiled the entire visible sky (90N to I dunno, -60 to -75S, I'd imagine) something like 120 times... so LSST can just look for whatever's left. :)

And it's not like these are the first, of course, NASA JPL's NEAT (Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking) system has been running for years and years.

One thing to consider, though - automated survey systems like these don't just find things that are moving in the sky, they also find things that are changing.

NEAT images, fed into the pipeline of the Nearby Supernova Factory collaboration, get analyzed for "bright spots that weren't there in the last photo." The last few years, that pipeline has found about as many supernovae as, well, everyone else combined.

Survey data can be similarly analyzed to find variable stars, extrasolar planets (through occlusion), any visible-wavelength light related to gamma ray bursts, etc. There's even a slight chance of finding new asteroids, moons of outer planets, plutoids, etc (although since those have proper motion, if you really wanted to find them you'd go about things differently).

Survey scopes aren't much use if you want to do deep study of one particular object, but if you want to find a whole bunch of something-or-other, survey scopes, even smallish ones, are really handy. Then you go apply for the time on the 3+ meter ones to do your in-depth study. :)

(Full disclosure: I work in a different department of the institute that operates Pan-STARRS, and am an associate member of the Nearby Supernova Factory.)

This is so misguided (4, Funny)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533931)

I'm sorry, but with 1.1 Petabytes of storage and 1.4-gigapixel cameras, they should be focussing on porn-stars, not Pan-STARRS.

Re:This is so misguided (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24533975)

Porn is pretty much not a huge fan of HD. The human body doesn't look all that good up-close and in high-res. Or at least, not as good as the fantasy that fills in over lower res.

Re:This is so misguided (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534841)

Agreed. I've worked with an adult entertainment company (we host their sites) and shooting the shit the other day over a beer, they told me that they don't want to do stuff in HD because reality sets in (that even porn stars have average joe bodies up close).

Re:This is so misguided (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533983)

If you want, I might have a ladder capable of placing said porn stars in front of the telescope and we can take the pictures by force...

Re:This is so misguided (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534191)

I'm sorry, but with 1.1 Petabytes of storage and 1.4-gigapixel cameras, they should be focussing on porn-stars, not Pan-STARRS.

Most of them, I'd rather not. In high definition, all the blemishes come out such as zits, scars, lousy makeup and so on. There are exceptions but I'd say the number of potential porn actresses drops by about 90% to only include the really, really stunningly beautiful girls. The cheap porn flick I'd rather pay to not see in HD...

Re:This is so misguided (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534269)

cheap porn flick I'd rather pay to not see in HD...

Where all the participants (men and women) look and
sound like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Now in 1080p!

Re:This is so misguided (2, Insightful)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535193)

Doesn't have to be HD. Think massively widescreen orgy.

The bytes always come in packages of 1.0... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24533939)

But pita is always in a package of 1.1, first hot dogs and buns did it and now this... I get the feeling this is a loophole in antitrust laws...

Niagara cameras (0, Offtopic)

beewulf (1341391) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534175)

Somehow, I think they can save 1.1 Perabytes of storage and not have to buy 1.4 gigapixel cameras by using the 25-cent pay-and-use cameras at Niagara Falls. Is Bruce Willis getting ready for a sequel?

this could be in yuor community (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24534235)

faggots eat the shit of other faggots from their faggot asses. would you want that around your children? faggots are a drain on society.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24534557)

When it's fully operational several years from now,

So, when it's online, these NEO's won't stand a chance against this full armed and operational battle, err, Pan-STARR station!

Individual boxen? (2, Insightful)

kramulous (977841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534749)

The only advantage I can see of using 50 boxes for the computational and file serving would be that you could power cycle those that are not on demand. But if your recording terabytes of images and you're going to run some image processing/data analysis routines over them, would you be better off with a compute cluster such as a rack of Altix or Blue Gene? Easier to manage, lower administration, maintenance and ongoings? I also have to question Microsoft SQL Server. Storing and retrieving images sure, but when it comes to serving for analysis and storing/collating results, it would be a little too slow? How much can you tune a closed source solution on a tight budget as opposed going for one that you can tinker with to gain performance.

Re:Individual boxen? (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535643)

It's in the article: they got the SQL-server on an academic-license and 50 computers for the same shoe-string butget.

Databases blow for storage (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535807)

Scientific data is write-once, read-many (not read-write financial transactions), so pretty much everything in the database is overhead.

1.1 Petabytes! (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 6 years ago | (#24534839)

1.1 petabytes? 1.1 petabytes? Great Scott!

Great Related Sci-Fi (1)

saberworks (267163) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535081)

If the topic interests you at all, check out Michael Flynn's Firestar series. Near-future science fiction. I contend that it's the best sci-fi series ever written. No, these aren't affiliate links.

http://www.amazon.com/Firestar-Michael-Flynn/dp/0812530063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218256538&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Star-Firestar-Michael-Flynn/dp/0812542991/ref=pd_sim_b_1 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Lodestar-Firestar-Michael-Flynn/dp/0812542967/ref=pd_sim_b_1 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Stars-Firestar-Michael-Flynn/dp/0812561848/ref=pd_sim_b_1 [amazon.com]

So it can track those which cant be avoided ... (1)

tkjtkj (577219) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535143)

So, it will be able to track those objects of such size or greater that would , unavoidably, sterilize our planet ... yet be unable to track those ( dia 300m ) whose paths we actually might be able to deflect ... but it is a start and is to be applauded....

Re:So it can track those which cant be avoided ... (2, Insightful)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536377)

So, it will be able to track those objects of such size or greater that would , unavoidably, sterilize our planet ... yet be unable to track those ( dia 300m ) whose paths we actually might be able to deflect ...

but it is a start and is to be applauded....

Who says we can't deflect a 1km object? The point is, you can't do it Armageddon-style at the last minute. But you can give it a small push in some direction 10 orbits (or 30 years) before it hits us. That's why orbit predictions need to be 50 years ahead.

Re:So it can track those which cant be avoided ... (1)

tkjtkj (577219) | more than 6 years ago | (#24542013)

True, yet the odds are enormously larger that the number of objects smaller than 300m is considerably greater than the number that can be detected. This, logically, makes it relatively pointless to search for 'the biggies' when the risk of a cataclysmic sterilizing event secondary to a smaller, less than 300m , object has to be considerably higher. but yes, as i commented, huge objects, even the size of earth itself, can theoretically have their orbits significantly changed, given enough time .. Didnt i say about 64,000 years was the time proposed to 'save the earth' from the heat effects of our expanding and dying Sun ?

Re:So it can track those which cant be avoided ... (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24553469)

True, yet the odds are enormously larger that the number of objects smaller than 300m is considerably greater than the number that can be detected. This, logically, makes it relatively pointless to search for 'the biggies' when the risk of a cataclysmic sterilizing event secondary to a smaller, less than 300m , object has to be considerably higher.

A 300m object will make a big BOOM, but it won't kill many people unless it lands on Manhattan (which is unlikely). If we do a little game theory and use the number of human lifes lost as cost, we have to multiply the probability of an event by the number of people it will kill.

If the big asteroids (of the kind that made dinosaurs go extinct) happen once every 70 million years on average, and we assume they kill all of us 7 billions people when they hit, then the big asteroids kill 100 people a year on average.

Re:So it can track those which cant be avoided ... (1)

tkjtkj (577219) | more than 6 years ago | (#24570429)

you must be joking! To say that an asteroid having a diameter 3 times as long as a football field, and travelling at 18,000 miles per hour and colliding with earth would merely destroy an area the size of Manhattan?? Do you have data for such a misguided assertion?

S&T article on these guys (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535233)

This month's issue of Sky and Telescope has a nice article on Pan-STARRS and a few other enormous survey telescopes. The linked article missed one of the most interesting bits of the camera- it's using an Orthogonal Transfer Charge Coupled Device.(See http://pan-starrs.ifa.hawaii.edu/public/design-features/cameras.html [hawaii.edu] ) An OTCCD can transfer built up charge from one pixel to another, so you can compensate for atmospheric distortion by simply moving stuff on the chip rather than trying to do it with a flexible mirror or some other optical approach. Very sweet trick

The article included a lot of details on the immense Large Synoptic Survey Telescope which will dwarf Pan-STARRS when it's done in ~2016. (LSST is in the south, Pan-STARRS is in the north, so they don't really compete) The specs for the LSST data boggle the mind- the thing will cover the entire southern sky every 3 days down to 24th magnitude, generating 30TB of data a night or ~13petabytes per year and having over 100 TFLOPS of computers devoted to sorting it. Read the specs here: http://www.lsst.org/About/lsst_baseline.shtml [lsst.org]

...Looks over at his little 6" and 8" scopes and sighs...

yoU FAIL it!? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24535433)

about Half of the

Wasted equipment..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535615)

I used to use an Atari 2600. Pretty simple set up. Small, compact and plugged right into my TV. Plus, with the addition of a cheap little switch, I could blow up incoming asteroids during commercial breaks. .....sigh..... How I miss my Atari.

Real men don't need controllers with a dozen buttons to beat games. They only need a joystick and a button.

Re:Wasted equipment..... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538221)

Haven't you seen the Jakks Atari classics 10 games in a joystick? They have miniaturised the console electronics so that you get a whole Atari 2600 system plus 10 games (Gravitar, Asteroids, Real Sports Volleyball, Centipede, Adventure, Pong, Missile Command, Breakout, Yars' Revenge and Circus Atari) all in a single joystick [amazon.com] .

Re:Wasted equipment..... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538285)

Better still, Atari Flashback 2 [amazon.com] .

It totally amazed me that these console systems are still on sale after 30 years, but make great entertainment for a 80's themed party.

The GrayWulf cluster from Microsoft (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535801)

From TFA:
A new feature allowing big distributed databases with MS Server 2008. This setup is called a GrayWulf cluster.

I wonder if this was the idea of the new PR company MS hired after the marketing failure of Vista?

Re:The GrayWulf cluster from Microsoft (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24535887)

I can't really see the phrase 'Imagine a GrayWulf cluster of these!' catching on on Slashdot. Nice try, Microsoft.

Mil Sats? Govt. Censorship? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536215)

So anything that can detect, track and determine the orbits of NEOs efficiently has got to be good at picking up all sorts of things in space. Like military satellites.

Will (any) governments be able to "edit" the database so that things they don't want noticed will remain so? On the other hand, will they be providing this project with satellite data to prevent false positives? Also, will the database be available to the public/amateur astronomers so that things like the recent "ghost" image can be found by non-professionals as well as things like gamma-ray bursters (supernovas) as well as the explosion visible to the naked eye from half-way across the universe?

Maybe this will be integrated into Google Sky (or the Microsoft equivalent). One of these days someone is going to search for "Aliens" and Google will show a picture saying "here they are!".

SQL server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536529)

seriously? We are trusting the planet to MS SQL server 2008?

Re:SQL server (1)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24539199)

The voice came from nowhere and everywhere around us, it was soft and feminine and reassuring in some strange way, our intergalactic cruiser was floating in space...
"The Earth is currently closed for business due to a reboot, we will be back on-line in...ohh let's see.. another 4.5 billion years. Thank you for waiting!"

holy sh,,,,, !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24539581)

This could be done with ONE real server. PLEASE, can someone at IBM DONATE them an i595, so they can just switch it on and do some real work instead of babysitting a cluster of 50 ( :-O ) Windows-PCs!?
I mean, this is 50 times Windows, with 500 patches per year, 50 of them causing trouble, etc... and still just a cluster, hard to configure, hard to program, hard to use, still insecure with patches, then Windows' unreliability...

An i595 is just ONE computer (= easy to use compared to a cluster), which probably has better performance than these 50 PCs, it has OS/400 and its integrated database, you just switch it on and start to work. And every 2 years or so you get one low-priority security patch...

Science NEEDS high-end equipment. Every government should stop buying unneccessary multimedia-crap like videowalls for advertisements etc. -- and instead spend the money to buy some usable equipment for their scientists...

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