SGI Technology Aids Critical Analysis At Kennedy Space Center's Ice And Debris Facility

NASA Scientists Collaboratively Assess Super-High Resolution Film Data of Discovery Launch in SGI Visualization Environment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As history-making repairs proceeded on Space Shuttle Discovery 227 miles above the Earth, scientists and engineers in the Ice/Debris Image Analysis Facility at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) were using a highly advanced imaging system from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI) to get a first close-up look at launch film data, frame by frame, in super-high resolution. Shuttle launch analysis continues at the Florida facility, using image data taken from hundreds of cameras positioned around the launch pad. The integrated SGI(R) visualization compute system, installed two years ago to review and analyze previous shuttle flight data, is one of the world's highest performing visual film analysis installations. SGI designed and installed the completely integrated state-of-the-art, greater than high-definition imaging solution, including scanning capabilities, image analysis capabilities and time-synched review capabilities of multiple cameras.

NASA monitored the Discovery shuttle launch on July 26, 2005, with approximately 200 cameras recording a mix of standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) video and 16mm and 35mm film, capturing images from every possible angle and phase of the launch. To analyze what NASA refers to as "First Look" imagery, SD and HD video is immediately sent from cameras at the launch pad to the Ice/Debris Facility at KSC as well as to Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center. The Ice/Debris Facility at KSC, however, has the SGI super-high definition visualization environment because this is where the launch takes place and where the bulk of the imagery is produced. They see the shuttle and external fuel tanks every day for months, right up until they fuel the tanks and watch the shuttle soar into space.

"The SGI visualization system is a uniquely matched set of equipment designed to provide the highest resolution collaborative viewing and working environment," said Bob Bishop, chairman and chief executive officer, SGI. "This enables expert analysis that makes manned spaceflight safer than ever before."

At KSC, once the film has been developed and an inter-positive made, key film sequences are scanned in digitally, using an Imagica XE(R) scanner. The SGI solution powered by a 12-processor SGI(R) Onyx(R) 3000 rackmount visualization computer is designed to allow everything from multiple-person collaboration to highly detailed manipulation and evaluation of specific imagery. Scientists compare, manipulate and analyze the data using InteractiveFX Piranha HD software, which is one of the primary tools to drive high-resolution imagery from digital photographs, video and film within KSC's SGI visualization environment. The SGI system is equipped with two SGI(R) InfiniteReality4(TM) graphics pipes that feed the launch data to the two large-screen digital projectors.

As part of preparations for return to flight, SGI Professional Services recently integrated an 8-foot wide ultra high-resolution (2048 x 1536 pixel) display system, the JVC DLA-QX1. An addition to a Christie large-screen digital projection system, both screens are thoroughly integrated with the SGI visualization system to enhance NASA's ability to collaboratively assess the effects of debris on the shuttle vehicle. Footage of the piece of foam, slightly less than a pound, that fell from the PAL ramp two minutes after Discovery's lift-off, as well as video of the thermal blanket on the, has been scrupulously studied and analyzed on the SGI system.

The Ice/Debris Team can collaborate using full-frame, real-time, standard-definition and high-definition video at 1280x720 pixels and can analyze 16mm and 35mm film data at 4096x3112 pixels, which is uncompressed 4K resolution. The SGI visualization system was designed to process 150,000 frames of film and 300,000 frames of video within two weeks of a launch. Digital infrastructure for data storage and networking is provided by the SGI(R) TP9500 RAID storage array, containing 32TB of storage. The data is accessible at a bandwidth of 2GB per second and can easily store the estimated 10TB and potentially 15TB of raw film data that could be ingested after a single launch.

SILICON GRAPHICS | The Source of Innovation and Discovery(TM)

SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, Inc., is the world's leader in high-performance computing, visualization and storage. SGI's vision is to provide technology that enables the most significant scientific and creative breakthroughs of the 21st century. Whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil more efficiently, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and government defense, or enabling the transition from analog to digital broadcasting, SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for scientific, engineering and creative users. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and can be found on the Web at

NOTE: Silicon Graphics, SGI, Onyx, the SGI cube and the SGI logo are registered trademarks and InfiniteReality4 and The Source of Innovation and Discovery are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries worldwide. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

     Lisa Pistacchio
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CONTACT: Lisa Pistacchio of Silicon Graphics, Inc., +1-650-933-5683, or
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