Through the mirror: Due to the huge distance between Earth and Mars, future astronauts will need on-board computers that can process intensive workloads locally without having to send information home and wait for responses to be returned. Space is a hostile environment and, as researchers are discovering, software is critical to helping hardware cope with these adverse climates.
Two Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers were sent into space in August 2017 for experimental testing aboard the International Space Station. The team behind the mission wanted to see the durability of systems with the least specialized treatment.
Linux machines are collectively referred to as the Spaceborne Computer and have "supercomputer processing power." The problem? They were owed on Earth months ago.
According to a recent report from the BBC, his return flight was delayed in October 2018 following a Russian rocket failure. About 530 days later, the systems are still alive, although there have been some hiccups.
HPE senior content architect Adrian Kasbergen told the BBC that there was a problem with the redundancy power supply and some solid-state drives. The failures were handled by standalone management software and did not seem to be very serious. Still, they would like to take the machines back to Earth to find out exactly what went wrong.
The systems have not been modified for their travel to space except for a change in how they are cooled. Heat is impaired by the system using a cooling solution that connects to the ISS 'primary water cooling system.
The real key, as you will hear in the podcast above, is in the software.
Kasbergen said systems can get a return trip home in June 2019 if there is enough space. At the moment, however, "they do not have a ticket".
HPE is working with NASA as well as Spaceon by Elon Musk to be "computer ready" for the first manned mission to Mars, set to take place around 2030.