The Portland Group
CSCS Top Right Frontpage

Since 1986 - Covering the Fastest Computers
in the World and the People Who Run Them

Language Flags

Visit additional Tabor Communication Publications

Enterprise Tech
HPCwire Japan

Amazon Enables Earthlings to View Martian Photos

Now that the Curiosity rover has made an action hero's entrance onto the red planet, members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) can breath a quick sigh of relief. The car-sized, rolling laboratory has already transmitted a small but breathtaking collection of images, displaying the planet's landscape and will continue to do so over the course of its mission. Eager earthlings who want a glimpse of what Mars looks like from the Curiosity's point of view can turn to the JPL website and spend time looking at pictures captured by the rover's cameras. All this has been made possible by a collection of tools provided by Amazon, who recently published a case study about the Curiosity mission.

NASA and Amazon have an established history when it comes to working on missions to Mars. The cloud provider is handling images transmitted by the Opportunity exploratory rover, which continues to function after eight years of service. Amazon also had a role in handling Web traffic during the new rover's complex landing procedure.

In preparation for Curiosity's big debut, NASA asked Amazon to help serve the estimated hundreds of thousands of visitors looking to see the landing operation. A complex system was devised, incorporating load balancing, traffic monitoring and a method to de-provision resources after the event took place. The system was benchmarked by SOASTA, which verified the stream could handle requests to the order of hundreds of gigabits per second.

There was good news all around as the landing was a success and the stream worked without any noticeable issues. Now that Curiosity is on the red planet, AWS will process pictures taken by the new inhabitant, making them available to JPL researchers and the public.

The workflow is slightly more complicated than sharing a photo from a smartphone. Although the rover has 17 cameras in total, the panoramic pictures are assembled using images gathered by a stereoscopic camera located on its masthead. An Amazon blog entry explains the process:

In order to produce a finished image, each pair (left and right) of images must be warped to compensate for perspective, then stereo matched to each other, stitched together, and then tiled into a larger panorama.

This process is completed using Amazon's Simple Flow and AWS Flow Frameworks, producing the graphics available to the public. The service provider says accelerated analysis of these images will lead to better decision-making, ultimately increasing the amount of exploration the new rover will embark upon.

Most Read Features

Most Read Around the Web

Most Read This Just In

Most Read Blogs

Sponsored Whitepapers

Breaking I/O Bottlenecks

10/30/2013 | Cray, DDN, Mellanox, NetApp, ScaleMP, Supermicro, Xyratex | Creating data is easy… the challenge is getting it to the right place to make use of it. This paper discusses fresh solutions that can directly increase I/O efficiency, and the applications of these solutions to current, and new technology infrastructures.

A New Ultra-Dense Hyper-Scale x86 Server Design

10/01/2013 | IBM | A new trend is developing in the HPC space that is also affecting enterprise computing productivity with the arrival of “ultra-dense” hyper-scale servers.

Sponsored Multimedia

Xyratex, presents ClusterStor at the Vendor Showdown at ISC13

Ken Claffey, SVP and General Manager at Xyratex, presents ClusterStor at the Vendor Showdown at ISC13 in Leipzig, Germany.

HPCwire Live! Atlanta's Big Data Kick Off Week Meets HPC

Join HPCwire Editor Nicole Hemsoth and Dr. David Bader from Georgia Tech as they take center stage on opening night at Atlanta's first Big Data Kick Off Week, filmed in front of a live audience. Nicole and David look at the evolution of HPC, today's big data challenges, discuss real world solutions, and reveal their predictions. Exactly what does the future holds for HPC?


Stay informed! Subscribe to HPCwire email Newsletters.

HPCwire Weekly Update
HPC in the Cloud Update
Digital Manufacturing Report
HPCwire Conferences & Events
Job Bank
HPCwire Product Showcases


HPC Job Bank

Featured Events

HPCwire Events