Press Release

Powerful SGI Computers Help Generate 3D Map of Earth

By SpaceRef Editor
February 22, 2000
Filed under

A Trillion Measurements of Earth Processed on SGI Origin Servers

Powerful computers
developed by SGI will transform nearly 1 trillion measurements
recorded by Shuttle Endeavor into the most detailed 3D topographic map of
Earth ever made. Once complete, the map of Earth will have numerous
scientific, commercial and military uses such as disaster relief, agriculture,
city planning, mineral exploration and military planning.

The project is called the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and is a
cooperative effort between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and the German (DLR)
and Italian (ASI) space agencies. It is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) for NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise.

Space Shuttle Endeavor rocketed skyward last Friday for an 11-day mission
to scan all land surfaces that lay between 60 degrees north latitude and
54 degrees south latitude-more than 80% of the Earth’s land surface-using
special radar. Through a process called interferometry, C-Band radar echoes
are converted into digital data (0s and 1s) and stored for later processing.
During its mission, Endeavor will gather approximately 9.8 terabytes of raw
data that will be stored on 300 high-density digital tapes (equivalent to
about 15,000 CDs). Upon Endeavor’s return, the C-Band radar data will be
processed at JPL on powerful SGI(TM) Origin(TM) systems using a method called
mosaicking to generate a spectacular three-dimensional image of Earth.

While Endeavor is in orbit, SGI(TM) systems are processing radar data for
instrument data quality monitoring and for providing feedback to mission
planners issuing instrument commands. SGI Origin servers are also being used
to run an interferometric processor to generate the C-Band derived images
released on JPL’s Web site (see NEWS RELEASES at

SGI Origin servers uniquely combine high bandwidth, large memory and
intense compute power to help users tackle complex problems involving very
large data sets. The advanced capabilities of SGI Origin servers contribute to
SGI’s dominance in space imaging; approximately 80% of the U.S. imaging
satellite ground stations are equipped with SGI systems.

SGI provides a broad range of high-performance computing and advanced
graphics solutions that enable customers to understand and conquer their
toughest computing problems. Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with
offices worldwide, the company is located on the Web at

Origin, SGI and the SGI logo are trademarks of Silicon Graphics,
Inc. Other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective
companies with which they are associated.

SpaceRef staff editor.