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A Supercomputer On the Moon To Direct Deep Space Traffic

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the red-moon-green-moon dept.

Moon 166

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA currently controls its deep space missions through a network of 13 giant antennas in California, Spain and Australia known as the Deep Space Network (DSN) but the network is obsolete and just not up to the job of transmitting the growing workload of extra-terrestrial data from deep space missions. That's why Ouliang Chang has proposed building a massive supercomputer in a deep dark crater on the side of the moon facing away from Earth and all of its electromagnetic chatter. Nuclear-powered, it would accept signals from space, store them, process them if needed and then relay the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth allows. The supercomputer would run in frigid regions near one of the moon's poles where cold temperatures would make cooling the supercomputer easier, and would communicate with spaceships and earth using a system of inflatable, steerable antennas that would hang suspended over moon craters, giving the Deep Space Network a second focal point away from earth. As well as boosting humanity's space-borne communication abilities, Chang's presentation at a space conference (PDF) in Pasadena, California also suggests that the moon-based dishes could work in unison with those on Earth to perform very-long-baseline interferometry, which allows multiple telescopes to be combined to emulate one huge telescope. Best of all the project has the potential to excite the imagination of future spacegoers and get men back on the moon."

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A Supercomputer on the moon? (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#41650751)

Aren't they afraid it will launch rocks at the earth if it achieves self-awareness?

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (0)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#41650791)

Was thinking the same thing. HOLMES IV.

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 2 years ago | (#41651001)

Apparently, they never read Peace on Earth [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (3, Informative)

kwark (512736) | about 2 years ago | (#41651151)

My guess is OP is hinting at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_A_Harsh_Mistress [wikipedia.org]
Atleast that is what the other replies are hinting at.

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41651273)

My guess is OP is hinting at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_A_Harsh_Mistress [wikipedia.org] At least that is what the other replies are hinting at.

Nah, it's obviously an attempt to Godwin the discussion using this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (1)

kwark (512736) | about 2 years ago | (#41651303)

But they didn't have a super computer at the "dark side" of the moon, even a cellphone was super compared to the thing they attempted to use.

Re:A Supercomputer on the moon? (3)

hemo_jr (1122113) | about 2 years ago | (#41651039)

They just need to not transport prisoners and install a warden, then bleed Luna dry (literally) by sending its water to Earth inside wheat.

A truly ridiculous idea. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650797)

Leave the computing power here on Earth, where it can easily be installed, repaired, and upgraded as necessary without budget-busting missions. Put a simple relay station on the moon if you feel it's necessary. Put two - one primary, once backup. Good god.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651209)

All modern computers are effectively supercomputers relative to the tech used even as recently as the 90's. A "simple relay station" would be a defacto supercomputer installation simply by using off the shelf parts available at BestBuy.

That aside, if you're going to put a nuclear powered anything on the dark side of the moon then go with the best tech available so that by the time it gets switched on it's still relevant technology and able to keep up with the future workload.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | about 2 years ago | (#41651469)

Isn't he proposing a hyped-up relay station (I have not RTFA)? Even a relay station with just the relay capabilities is going to need a decent amount of processing power. "Supercomputer" is hopelessly vague, but it will have to operate autonomously to relay a large amount of traffic, and be radiation-hardened and able to operate in near-0K temperatures. Probably more ambitious than any other computer we have launched out of our gravity well, but then again probably only by an order of magnitude or so.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651507)

I don't know why you wouldn't park it at a Lagrange point. That way at least you wouldn't have to deal with the lunar gravity well if you want to go service it. And I doubt cooling is really an issue in either location - more likely, you'd have to heat the thing.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41651591)

The Earth-Moon L2 would be the only Lagrange point with the necessary criteria, the Moon blocking Earth. Seems like an awfully big thing to miss. Almost like the criteria was find some excuse to build stuff on the Moon.

Still, should someone does build an extensive radio telescope network on the far side of the Moon, using that network for DSN-type stuff would be a bit of value-add.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651681)

The antennas need to be steerable. How would you do that? If the antenna is fixed, the whole craft would need to be rotated, which requires the use of attitude thrusters and propellant. If you move the antennas mechanically, it will impart a moment to the craft which also would need to be adjusted for. Propellant renders a finite lifetime to the device, which might not be ideal.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41651865)

One doesn't need propellant to rotate a spacecraft. You can also apply torque via gyroscopes, for example.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651975)

Gyroscopes need to be de-saturated from time to time to get rid of excess energy (spin, if you will) and that requires a propellant burst to compensate... In space, nobody can hear you scream but they can watch as gravity perturbes your orbit.

Re:A truly ridiculous idea. (1)

tloh (451585) | about 2 years ago | (#41651517)

Agreed. Why on Earth (haha) would you locate such equipment where you'd have to expend energy and fuel going in and out of a gravity well to service and maintain it? As another alternative, wouldn't it be feasible to have it at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrangian points?

Delusional twaddle (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650819)

Perhaps this computer will be 3D printed as well, and powered by privately launched solar arrays? I mean, if you're going delusional, might as well go full out. The nurses don't mind either way, they just up your dose of Haloperidol.

Re:Delusional twaddle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651161)

As somebody who is fucking a Psy.D and has plenty of mentally ill friends(including one who is, in fact, receiving Haldol "butt-shots" as a result of his meth psychosis), I know that they don't "up the dose" of the butt-shot, they up the dose of the oral medication that the nutbag is taking in conjunction with the butt-shot. You may not know this, but those Haldol butt-shots cost the taxpayer over $1000 apiece and so it makes more sense to use an atypical antipsychotic such as Quetiapine, where you can titrate the dose to up to, shit, like 1000mg. Goddamn, that must turn a person into a drooling zombie.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Delusional twaddle (2)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | about 2 years ago | (#41651199)

Instead of a supercomputer wouldn't it make more sense to use clouding computing to crowd-source the power? Then they just need to put a media consumer device on the moon.

Re:Delusional twaddle (1)

dark12222000 (1076451) | about 2 years ago | (#41651289)

My sarcasm detector must be going bad, because I actually thought you were serious.

Re:Delusional twaddle (4, Funny)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#41651399)

Instead of a supercomputer wouldn't it make more sense to use clouding computing to crowd-source the power? Then they just need to put a media consumer device on the moon.

The moon does not have an atmosphere, so clouds don't exist there. Ergo - no cloud computing! Sorry!

Re:Delusional twaddle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651795)

And add frigging laser on it's head.

Chatter (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650821)

> in a deep dark crater on the side of the moon facing away from Earth and all of its electromagnetic chatter

Great... so the one good place we could put radio telescopes because they are shielded from chatter is now ruined because there is a big-ass transmitter.

Re:Chatter (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#41651021)

So we put the relay gear near the north pole and the radio telescopes near the south pole.

Maybe use the idle time for SETI? (2)

aflag (941367) | about 2 years ago | (#41650823)

That would be incredible thing to do. I bet it would be interesting to use its idle time to projects like SETI.

The moon... (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 2 years ago | (#41650829)

I am all for going back to the moon. I'm all for placing a permanent station on the moon. Let's really study what's up there. Let's make an attempt at actually studying space from space.

Technology Lag in radiation hardness (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41650843)

Its why the shuttles ran off of 386's, and the current mars rover uses something kin to a 233mhz G3, now all of a sudden we can stick a super-computer on the moon? Set aside the repair bill when it blows something, how many radiation hardened super-computers are available, and more importantly how old are they?

radiation hardness, nah... Superconducting! (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about 2 years ago | (#41650979)

Those are not real difficulties. The computing centre would be underground, that provides excellent radiation shielding. Computer just needs to survive transportation (when it will not be running) once. much simpler than the shuttle. You don't repair anything, just send a bit extra and apply fail-in-place maintenance strategy... What would be really cool is if they plan to operate at a natural temp... they could be designed for exploit superconduction... maybe the computer would be completely different from earthbound designs.

Re:radiation hardness, nah... Superconducting! (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41651107)

Those are not real difficulties. The computing centre would be underground, that provides excellent radiation shielding. Computer just needs to survive transportation (when it will not be running) once. much simpler than the shuttle. You don't repair anything, just send a bit extra and apply fail-in-place maintenance strategy... What would be really cool is if they plan to operate at a natural temp... they could be designed for exploit superconduction... maybe the computer would be completely different from earthbound designs.

So you're advocating for a radically different, first-of-its-kind computer to be installed in a place that's almost impossible to get to.

Yeah, I'm sure that'll work out well.

Re:radiation hardness, nah... Superconducting! (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about 2 years ago | (#41651369)

Good point. I think the post was saying two things: 1) radiation shielding & repair strategies are not a big deal (we already use Fail-in-place to not touch systems for X year life cycles, for things like containerized data centres, or supercomputers.) 2) the unique environment allows some new choices...

I think 1) is pretty solid. 2) is more admittedly quite a bit more speculative... why bother with 2? well according to this: http://www.academia.edu/1328244/SuperGreen_Computing_Superconducting_Computers_as_Green_Technology [academia.edu]

the article says it is reasonable to expect such computers to run one hundred times faster, and/or consume 100x less power than conventional systems. We are talking about supercomputers, so those order of magnitude turn into large numbers, in watts, in tonnes. Considering launch costs, it might be worthwhile to incur the technical risk. So yeah, it harder, but if you are going to go to the trouble of putting it on the moon, wouldn't you want one that went 100x faster for the same power envelope?

Re:radiation hardness, nah... Superconducting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651393)

In ten years, we'll just need to send a 3D printer (with 3D printed rockets) on the Moon, it will print out private space supercomputers.

The Big Ear (3, Interesting)

shawnhcorey (1315781) | about 2 years ago | (#41650853)

I always thought that putting a radio-telescope on the back side of the moon would be a good idea since the moon would block all the electromagnetic noise from Earth. Two could be installed, one just over the curve near the north pole and one near the south pole. This would give a baseline of appropriately the diameter of the moon. It would be one, big ear.

That's a relief... (1)

aussie.virologist (1429001) | about 2 years ago | (#41650855)

Initially I thought the headline said the supercomputer was to direct "sheep space traffic". I would get to sleep much quicker knowing that we have a supercomputer doing the sheep counting for me at night.

Battery Backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650857)

Gonna need one massive battery backup system. Does Amazon deliver to the moon yet?

Can we call it Mike and give it voice interface? (3, Funny)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#41650867)

Maybe also build a big catapult.

Re:Can we call it Mike and give it voice interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651047)

How about we don't. I'd rather not have the Lunies throwing rocks at Earth in the future.

Cloud Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650873)

There are new things every year in the field of IT. Even as we get used to cloud computing there are other big ideas waiting in the horizon waiting to take over. One such idea is big data and the other is peercling.

Data is going to be on the rise and it is going to be a difficult task to maintain all the data and get an understanding of it as it is expected to go up by fifty times in the next eight years so big data will play a key role in analyzing it. It will be fast and will give different angles of analysis to the same data. The major aspects that big data will be concentrating on will be economics of scale, affordability, agility and extensibility. Precision the enormous amount of data which it will help in analyzing will be it’s biggest advantages.
http://www.ithinkinfotech.com/blog/development/next-big-thing-after-cloud.html

Meteor impacts (1)

aflag (941367) | about 2 years ago | (#41650913)

Isn't the moon suffering impacts all the time? Isn't it risky to leave a supercomputer there?

Re:Meteor impacts (1)

svick (1158077) | about 2 years ago | (#41651109)

I think they are not that common. If you think they are so common because the surface is full of them, that's because there is nothing to clear them out over the ages (no vegetation, wind, flowing water or even geologic activity like volcanoes) compared with Earth.

Re:Meteor impacts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651667)

They are common. Think of the many meteor showers the earth has that people stay up to watch. And random ones happen that aren't part of the showers. Chance of any single spot getting hit are small, but hits are common.

Re:Meteor impacts (3, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 2 years ago | (#41651719)

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/lunar/program_overview.html [nasa.gov]

"On average, 33 metric tons (73,000 lbs) of meteoroids hit Earth every day, the vast majority of which harmlessly ablates ("burns up") high in the atmosphere, never making it to the ground. The moon, however, has no atmosphere, so meteoroids have nothing to stop them from striking the surface. The slowest of these rocks travels at 20 km/sec (45,000 mph); the fastest travels at over 72 km/sec (160,000 mph). At such speeds even a small meteoroid has incredible energy -- one with a mass of only 5 kg (10 lbs) can excavate a crater over 9 meters (30 ft) across, hurling 75 metric tons (165,000 lbs) of lunar soil and rock on ballistic trajectories above the lunar surface. "

Re:Meteor impacts (1)

svick (1158077) | about 2 years ago | (#41651761)

But that doesn't say anything about the frequency of impacts on the Moon. Moon is much smaller target than Earth.

Cold? (3, Insightful)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 2 years ago | (#41650919)

I thought heat-sinking in near-vacuum conditions was difficult because, although it's very cold temperature-wise, the ability of the "air" to hold heat is so limited that you can't move very much away.

Re:Cold? (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | about 2 years ago | (#41650981)

I think the idea is to use the actual mass of the moon to cool, not the vacuum of space.

Re:Cold? (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41651137)

Is the mass of the moon that conductive (unlike earth)?

Re:Cold? (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | about 2 years ago | (#41651301)

Perhaps not. This is a very poorly-thought out idea, and definitely not a complete one.

I personally don't think that this specific idea is ever going to be feasible, but the general idea of using the moon as secondary hub for a large scale, interbodied military/scientific/navigation network isn't going to be feasible for at least twenty-five years at the earliest, and probably more than thirty. I feel like most of the investment in information is going to be confined to Earth until the hardened technology underlying space travel/exploration improves a bit.

Re:Cold? (1)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 2 years ago | (#41651573)

You're probably right. I don't see how we get something like this till we have at least a medium-sized permanent moon base with a data center buried deep enough in the regolith or underlying rock to be reasonably safe from cosmic ray interference. And I still don't think you can use the lunar "atmosphere" for any sort of heat sinking, in any case. For the record, though, IANA Astrophysicist.

You insensitive clod! (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41651255)

What about ALW? Anthropic Lunar Warming.

Re:You insensitive clod! (1)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 2 years ago | (#41651545)

What about ALW? Anthropic Lunar Warming.

Liberal propaganda. Everyone knows that ALW is really the only thing keeping the next Lunar Glaciation at bay.

Re:Cold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651457)

Only matter has a temperature. A vacuum has no temperature. It's not cold, it's not hot. Is the vacuum in your thermos hot or cold? What is the hair color of a bald man? The few particles per unit volume you find in space are actually quite hot (they're moving quite fast), there's just not enough of them to affect anything with human-scale mass.

If I drop you in space in a perfectly insulating space suit, you'll cook in your own heat. Put a big block of metal that radiates heat away, it'll get cold. It has nothing to do with any "temperature" of a vacuum. It's about the system you're talking about.

Re:Cold? (1)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 2 years ago | (#41651525)

No kidding. That's why I wrote "near-vacuum," which is an accurate description of the "atmosphere" of the moon. [wikipedia.org] The moon has a much more dense "atmosphere" than interstellar or even interplanetary space, but I still don't think it's enough to provide heat-sinking to any noticeable degree.

Re:Cold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651579)

You don't need an atmosphere to radiate heat away. You're thinking of convection. But radiating is the least efficient way to do it.

Re:Cold? (1)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 2 years ago | (#41651985)

You don't need an atmosphere to radiate heat away. You're thinking of convection. But radiating is the least efficient way to do it.

That's true. However, isn't the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere immaterial to the amount of heat that can be lost via radiation? I just assumed that TFA was talking convection because I didn't see radiation as being viable in that context or dependent in any way on how "cold" the moon was.

Re:Cold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651961)

For my knowledge the heat dissipate in space (and moon) fairly well by heat radiation. That's why there are heaters in satellites and space station. If you remember Apollo flights, they almost frozen after they had to shut down heaters. But in the other hand, It takes months to cool down Planck infrared satellite in earth-moon L2 to low enough to collect data.

So the cooling depends what kind of temp is required (if supraconductivity is needed, then it is hard)

How Deep is the Crater? (2)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 2 years ago | (#41650923)

Let's take it out of all the EM chatter on the earth, and instead put it inside of all the EM chatter from the SUN. That sounds like a pretty good idea.

Polar ice NOT temperature! (5, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#41650929)

The supercomputer would run in frigid regions near one of the moon's poles where cold temperatures would make cooling the supercomputer easier

Actually that is NOT what the article says. I know on slashdot that us commenters rarely read the article but things are getting pretty bad if not even the submitter reads the article!

The reason for locating it at the poles (as the article explains) is due to the availability of water ice for cooling. You stick it in a deep crater there to provide a stable thermal environment i.e. you avoid having to design a system to cope with both the heat during the day and the cold at night. The reason this is important is because vacuum is a fantastic insulator so, despite it being cold, the only way to lose that heat is via radiation which is not very fast (this is why thermos flasks use vacuum as an insulator). The presence of water ice means that you can use it to transport the heat away from the the computer.

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (1)

aflag (941367) | about 2 years ago | (#41651059)

One of the articles, the one from GCN, states: "He proposes deploying antennas using inflatable balloons, and using the cold environment of the dark side of the moon to cool the computers."

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (1)

rk (6314) | about 2 years ago | (#41651271)

Which is even more thoughtless, because the so-called dark side of the moon gets just as much sun as the side we see. When the moon is new, the side away from us is getting the sun.

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (1)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#41651451)

He proposes deploying antennas using inflatable balloons

Did he forget that the Moon does not have any atmosphere?

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651993)

He doesn't remember the moon doesn't have a constant dark side, so I wouldn't bet on it.

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651105)

I was wondering about this actually, and I've heard the "hardware easier to cool on moon" claim for a couple of years now and it never made sense to me (because of the vacuum).

With water cooling though wouldn't there be need for significantly more contact with the components than traditionally done on Earth? I've seen water cooling in workstations, and it's just a bunch of pipes going through the casing, usually no direct contact. It looks to me like it's still using air as the fundamental medium of heat exchange, but water as a means of maintaining a larger temp. gradient near components (facilitating transfer).

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41651265)

the only way to lose that heat is via radiation which is not very fast (this is why thermos flasks use vacuum as an insulator).

Actually, the thermos relies on two features, either of which being compromised would significantly degrade the entire system. You got the first one, vacuum, which is great at not conducting. The second one is to choose a material that does not emit well - vacuum is practically transparent to radiation...

Reflective coatings are great for this, Black coatings.. not so much.... What you pick depends on the temperatures and the temperature difference you want to maintain.

LN2 dewars tend to be steel - it's ok to vent a little gaseous nitrogen, but you wouldn't want gallons of LN2 pouring over the lab after your container shatters from thermal stress. Coffee containers tend to use glass with mirror coatings - the temperature difference is smaller, and the most important thing is that your coffee must still be hot when you open the bottle 6 hours later.

But depending on the material and temperatures, vacuum alone might not suffice. Which is good news for space craft designers looking to dump waste heat - it's possible to design a system to do so.

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651499)

The use of metal radiators with lots of surface area, combined with the extreme cold, will make cooling the chips much easier on the Moon than on the earth. The key difference will be getting away with passive cooling on the moon. You won't need active refrigeration.

Re:Polar ice NOT temperature! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41651627)

The use of metal radiators with lots of surface area, combined with the extreme cold, will make cooling the chips much easier on the Moon than on the earth.

Not at all. Thermal conduction and convection are a lot more efficient than radiation. Having said that, the Moon itself would make a decent heat sink.

$moking Crack They Are (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41650943)

A supercomputer? On the moon? To relay deep space traffic? Gee I can only imagine how many tens of billions that will cost. Not like something couldn't be built on the earth for a fraction of the cost and complexity. Why is NASA even the one to run and build what amounts to a telecommunications network? They should be farming this out to industry.

Re:$moking Crack They Are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651139)

'...couldn't be built on the earth for a fraction of the cost and complexity."

From the article, since you can't be bother to read the fucking thing:

"The problem, and hence the possible need for Chang’s moon base, is that space is getting too crowded to process all the data coming from the varous probes, satellites and robots we have wandering the solar system. Missions are already competing for time and bandwidth, and the situation will only get worse.

Each time a new space ship launches, it’s like adding a new client to the network. The moon base idea would be like adding a new router and server to that network, which would accept signals from space, store them, process them if needed and then relay the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth allows."

Re:$moking Crack They Are (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41651405)

'...couldn't be built on the earth for a fraction of the cost and complexity."

From the article, since you can't be bother to read the fucking thing:

"The problem, and hence the possible need for Chang’s moon base, is that space is getting too crowded to process all the data coming from the varous probes, satellites and robots we have wandering the solar system. Missions are already competing for time and bandwidth, and the situation will only get worse.

Each time a new space ship launches, it’s like adding a new client to the network. The moon base idea would be like adding a new router and server to that network, which would accept signals from space, store them, process them if needed and then relay the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth allows."

Seems like it would be easier just to put up another expensive satellite at one of the LaGrange points every few years with more speed and bandwidth than landing something that we've never built anywhere in some place we've never gone.

You know, in engineering, like sex, experience counts.

it's sunday (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41650953)

I keep a supercomputer in my pants to direct my rocket.

bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651025)

Also, the dark side of the moon near the poles will not remain cold once the moon rotates around and the "dark side" becomes exposed.

Yes, the moon does rotate, it's just tidally locked, so its rotation is the same as its orbit. when we see a new moon, it's a full moon on the "dark" side. Just clearing that up before I get a flamewar again over the subject.

Lame argument for "man in space". (2)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41651037)

It's a lame excuse for a "man in space" pork program. There's not much data coming back from space beyond Earth orbit, because there isn't that much hardware beyond Earth orbit. Right now, only Voyager I, Cassini, and the Mars rover are transmitting. The total data rate from all of them would fit over a dial-up line.

There are some bottlenecks in dealing with all the stuff in earth orbit. More satellites in the TDRSS [wikipedia.org] system, or more ground stations, may be needed. Assets on the Moon wouldn't help.

Re:Lame argument for "man in space". (1)

adri (173121) | about 2 years ago | (#41651269)

Really? Do you know what the uplink rate from the rover actually is? Hint. it's not 9600bps anymore.

Re:Lame argument for "man in space". (2)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41651785)

Really? Do you know what the uplink rate from the rover actually is? Hint. it's not 9600bps anymore.

NASA says 12Kb/s back to Earth [nasa.gov] Rover to orbiter is 128Kb/s, but that's then spooled slowly back over the long-range data link.

that's some dialup that handles Mbps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651537)

MSL is returning about 1 Tbit/day these days. Opportunity is returning a fair amount as well. HiRise camera on MRO can fill the 4 Mbps pipe from MRO. Oh, yeah, Juno will be sending back a fair amount when it gets to Jupiter. ANd the, there's Odyssey and Mars Express. And a few others.

Asimov had a similar idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651049)

R. Daneel Olivaw. directed more than deep space traffic.

That's no moon... (2)

infernalC (51228) | about 2 years ago | (#41651057)

it's a space sta^h^h^h datacenter.

Re:That's no moon... (1)

svick (1158077) | about 2 years ago | (#41651131)

Moon Cloud! Suitable for off-Earth backup!

Re:That's no moon... (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#41651173)

Don't be silly, there are no clouds on the moon.

First customer ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41651293)

... Kim Dotcom. Lets see the DOJ seize this, biatch!

It would have to (ahem) manned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651061)

http://ufoseries.com/photos/harringtonLooseCollar.jpg

Supercomputer on the moon (1)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | about 2 years ago | (#41651187)

One's already there. Just needs a cell phone and a marine detachment to purge all the damn Nazis.

Go ahead (3, Funny)

mrjb (547783) | about 2 years ago | (#41651221)

Go ahead, put it out there. But remember... Finders keepers losers weepers.

Why the moon again? (0)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 2 years ago | (#41651245)

I'm pretty sure you could build yourself a whole bunch of ground-based dishes, or even a few geo-stationary relay stations, for the cost of a moon base and relay infrastructure to get the data from the far side to the near side. There are reasons to put stuff on the far side of the moon, but handling comm traffic from the dozen or so probes we've put out there isn't one of them.

Re:Why the moon again? (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 2 years ago | (#41651341)

I'm pretty sure you could build yourself a whole bunch of ground-based dishes, or even a few geo-stationary relay stations, for the cost of a moon base and relay infrastructure to get the data from the far side to the near side. There are reasons to put stuff on the far side of the moon, but handling comm traffic from the dozen or so probes we've put out there isn't one of them.

If you RTFA you'll find out which of your statements are wrong and confirmation of the correct one.

Why not a satellite? (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#41651319)

What's the advantage of landing a bunch of computers on the moon? Also, it's much easier to get a high bandwidth signal to an Earth satellite (including on the moon), so why would we want to process the data there with computers that will quickly become obsolete instead of just creating a simple and reliable relay station?

Re:Why not a satellite? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41651503)

What's the advantage of landing a bunch of computers on the moon? Also, it's much easier to get a high bandwidth signal to an Earth satellite (including on the moon), so why would we want to process the data there with computers that will quickly become obsolete instead of just creating a simple and reliable relay station?

it makes for a wackier story.

Problems with slow rotation? (1)

michael_cain (66650) | about 2 years ago | (#41651383)

Given the moon's 28.5 day rotation, wouldn't a single antenna on the far side of the moon be blocked from any particular deep-space target for significant periods of time? On the order of two weeks out of every month? So you'd need at least a couple of these in order to avoid the problem.

What the hell's happened to /. ? (3, Funny)

opusman (33143) | about 2 years ago | (#41651435)

A story about super computers and not one comment about a Beowulf Cluster??

Re:What the hell's happened to /. ? (1)

fredan (54788) | about 2 years ago | (#41651467)

because we only have one moon!

Hey, I know! (1)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#41651501)

How about we build a FAKE moon instead, that we can move and rotate to wherever we want. We may have to bring in the DoD on this to get funding, and... they may want to test a giant laser on it. In fact this may become a DoD project completely due to funding shortages, but they have promised us we will get some time on their supercomputer, when they are not firing their laser at things.

Re:Hey, I know! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651869)

Will it have huge air ducts big enough for an assault fleet of spacecrafts to slip in and blow the reactors?

nuke power? (1)

louden obscure (766926) | about 2 years ago | (#41651511)

they gonna build it by that big body of moon water?

Why not... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41651589)

I realize human's will usually prefer 'instant gratification', but... Shouldn't we hold off on these great ideas until we have a fully capable moon base up and running. Hell, once we've established that (and worked out all the unforseen problems of a moon base), it will make lots of these ideas more feasible and cheaper to perform.

What about music? (2)

XB-70 (812342) | about 2 years ago | (#41651629)

Will it transmit Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in a never-ending loop?

Veda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651657)

Sounds like Veda [wikia.com] !

Let the Chinese Do It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651743)

Let the Chinese government do this project. It would be far less costly than having the USA government borrow all the money from the Chinese, then have to pay the Chinese interest on the loan, plus have to pay for profit USA corporations to build the gear and deliver it to the moon.

Stupid questions (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#41651799)

Why do you need a "supercomputer" to "process" and relay signals?

How are "processed" signals going to get to earth from a station on the dark side of the moon without a line of sight back to earth?

So, how does this make sense? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41651853)

How exactly does spending (high) three digit billions (at the very least) to build this system rather than (low) double digit billions to replace/upgrade the existing system make any sense whatsoever?

Not to mention that even with steerable antennas on the farside, this system won't replace the 24/7 communications capability currently available.

Instead, I suggest ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#41651945)

... the L4 [wikipedia.org] and L5 [wikipedia.org] points.

Inflatable balloons? Are they supposed to float? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41651947)

Ok, great, put an antenna on the far side of the moon to shield it from the noise coming from Earth. But how is the data supposed to get to and from that far-side antenna? Oh yeah, inflatable antennae floating over some craters. What? Are they inflated with Helium or something? How are they supposed to float over the moon in the vacuum of space?

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