NASA Supercomputers Power COVID-19 Research

COV-IRT Co-Lead Afshin Beheshti is featured in this story.


NASA is flexing its supercomputing muscle to help crack some of the most pressing questions surrounding COVID-19, from basic science on how the virus interacts with cells in the human body to genetic risk factors to screening for potential therapeutic drugs.

In addition to its support of Earth, planetary, aerospace, heliophysics and astrophysics projects, the agency’s supercomputer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, also has an allocation of time on it reserved for national priorities.

NASA has joined a consortium of institutions that is pairing up supercomputing resources with proposals for using high-end computing power for COVID-19 studies. The effort was organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and includes industry partners IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Amazon, Microsoft and others, as well as the Department of Energy’s National Labs, the National Science Foundation, and many universities. The consortium is supporting 64 projects and is open to new proposals. To date, four projects have been matched to NASA.

“This is not NASA’s normal work, but we have the supercomputers and the expertise to help researchers working on COVID-19 get the most out the supercomputing power,” said Tsengdar Lee, program manager for NASA’s High End Computing Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Supercomputers are suited for processing large amounts of data. For NASA’s usual projects this means simulating the movements of air masses and water around the planet to study Earth’s climate, hunting for exoplanets, studying the behavior of black holes, or designing aeronautic or aerospace vehicles. Each piece of these very large puzzles is guided by certain physical and chemical laws in their interactions and relationships with other components. Zooming in to the atomic level to study the coronavirus is […]

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