Status Report

NASA Nebula News: September 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
September 4, 2009
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NASA Nebula News: September 2009

Welcome to the first edition of NASA Nebula News!

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Each month, this newsletter will highlight the advancements of Nebula, NASA’s cloud computing platform. Nebula will provide an integrated computing infrastructure, development platform, and policy framework that promises to streamline the way that workgroups within NASA use the Internet to connect with the public, create research teams with external partners, and collaboratively develop web applications. The Nebula cloud will offer high capacity computing, storage, and network connectivity that will help NASA share data faster and in a more cost and energy-efficient manner.

Nebula Infrastructure Status

How far along is Nebula? On the production side, we are currently hosting a limited number of web applications to test drive our cloud. On the infrastructure side, the migration of the “Horsehead” 12-server cluster (named after a dark nebula in Orion shaped like a horse’s head) to our new facility is complete, and we are progressing on the procurement of 12 additional servers.

Over the past several weeks, our development team has been busy working with Eucalyptus (, an API-compatible open source clone of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Originally developed by researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Eucalyptus will provide NASA researchers with an efficient, reliable way to “plug in” to on-demand computing. NASA is enthusiastic about the potential of working in an open source environment; we are the only federal government agency building a completely open source cloud.

Nebula Beta Program Update

We will be sending “early beta” Nebula account invitations to selected NASA participants in October. A second round of account invitations will be sent to a wider group of participants in November. We will also be sending a “needs survey” to all beta program participants in order to better understand the wide array of potential Nebula applications.

Nebula Pilot Project: LCROSS Citizen Science

An important date for Nebula is October 9, 2009 – the date when NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission is projected to impact the South Pole of the Moon. Astronomy enthusiasts around the world are informally working with NASA scientists to share their observations of the LCROSS impact event.

To support this, Nebula was used to develop and host a web application that will allow these “citizen scientists” to upload high-resolution photographs to the LCROSS Citizen Science website at:

Nebula’s ability to automatically scale up server resources as demand grows will allow the LCROSS Citizen Science site to handle the torrent of image uploads expected on the day of impact.

Nebula in the Media

Nebula’s future is promising, and several reporters and bloggers have been taking note. Below is a sampling of some of the media attention we’ve recently received:

* NASA’s Next Mission: Cloud Computing:

* White House mulls making NASA a center for Federal Cloud Computing:

* Nebula named #1 Influential Science and Tech Story for 2009:

* NASA could outsource flights and insource IT:

Tracking Nebula’s progress

The Nebula team is actively using social media to keep interested parties informed on a more frequent and casual basis. Please follow our developments on Facebook and Twitter:

* Follow us on Facebook:

* Follow us on Twitter:

Thanks for your interest in NASA Nebula – we’ll see you next month!

SpaceRef staff editor.