NASA taps Northrop Grumman for supercomputing software

NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman Information Technology a contract to develop software for earth science supercomputing programs. The five-year contract could be worth as much as $30 million.

The company will provide software for a new Software Integration and Visualization Office (SIVO) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md. The software will assist Goddard scientists in using the Columbia supercomputer at Ames Research Center in California and the new Explorer supercomputer at Goddard.

Beginning next month, Northrop will assist Goddard scientists in analyzing hurricanes, atmospheric changes and other environmental events.

Michael Seablom, head of SIVO, said the contract will speed up software processes used to model weather forecasts. “We try to build tomorrow’s tools for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” Seablom said.

“A weather forecast, for example, can take a day or a couple of days to run on the supercomputer," he added. "The services are to improve the software and make the executions run as fast as they can. If we can get every ounce of performance out of the supercomputer, then we are not wasting any money.”

NASA’s earth and sun supercomputing office traditionally taps the private sector for engineering supercomputer software. The software services from Northrop Grumman IT will make supercomputer programming easier. The objective is to make research models that are portable, extensible and reusable across NASA’s supercomputers, Seablom said.

Storm analysis is only one field that NASA's earth scientists investigate. Researchers observe the atmosphere, ocean, land and solar system from sun to mud, Seablom said.

NASA awarded the contract Oct. 24 to Northrop Grumman IT under the Millennia governmentwide acquisition contract, which the General Services Administration administers.

Northrop Grumman “has been assertive in offering access to some of their internal research and development activities, and we’re excited about that," Seablom said.

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