Powering Mars Research

John MelonakosCase Studies, CUDA Leave a Comment

The Curiosity Mars rover landing reminded us of a recent talk by Brendan Babb of NASA and UAA in Anchorage about Jacket-accelerated Mars research. The talk was given at GTC 2012 in May.

The main thrust of this research is improving mars rover image compression via GPUs and genetic algorithms. With Jacket and GPUs, the researchers were able to achieve 5X speedups on the larger data sizes.

The algorithm works by pairing neighboring pixels with a random one and then adjusting the random pixel based on whether it incrementally improves the original image. Babb described the algorithm as an “embarrassingly” parallel process, ideally suited to GPU acceleration. He estimates he has been able to achieve a 20 to 30 percent error reduction in subjects like fingerprints and satellite imagery. More information is available on the NVIDIA blog.

We had a geek-party at our office last night to watch the Mars rover landing! To learn more about what just happened, check out these videos: Seven minutes of Terror (introductory material) and NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain (today’s landing event). How did you celebrate the rover landing?


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