Space Telescope Explores Blockchain for Data Processing

Space Telescope Explores Blockchain for Data Processing

A space telescope researcher is analyzing a blockchain network for processing a significant amount of data.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope which requires “millions upon millions” of hours calculating power to facilitate data that can become costly in the long run, according to Josh Peek, an associate astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Peek said they are working with blockchain startups AIKON and Hadron to process the research data. AIKON provides an interface where he can enter the data, after which it is facilitated and rendered through computers which hold Hardon’s blockchain network.

Peek cited his fondness for the SETI@Home program that helps researchers attached to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project similarly crowdsource computing power. The researcher, according to him, is doing the same thing but with the help of a blockchain platform. “The idea is, we work through AIKON, [which] works as an intermediary and they provide a simple interface for companies to use, or for research groups like mine,” he added.

The researcher hopes the decentralized network will allow them to use resources more efficiently by tapping into a larger network than those available through a conventional server firm. He explained that researchers in the past “were only spending a tiny amount of compute time per galaxy,” which resulted in basic outcomes and likely errors at a detailed level. He said advances in computer technology have given researchers more computing power and data.

“Tens of millions of CPU hours can really run up a bill. NASA and [STScI] use computing centers and that’s a way we can go … but there’s long latency period where you go through a grant process … and so the idea came up that we could use a distributed network to do this really efficiently, it’s 10 times cheaper than standard cloud computing,” he said.

Hadron is a useful proof-of-work blockchain that is processing the data provided by Peek, with Marc Blinder, AIKON’s co-founder and chief product officer, saying their CPU tokens being used to pay for the computing time. Blinder said the value of token is set to the average cost of computing power levied by cloud hosting services.

Currently, the likes of Peek are testing the platform using a supply of free tokens although the plan is to have other client avail of the CPU tokens to lease computing power.

“I’m not an expert in this stuff and that’s the point. Nobody over here is going to do really complicated things with cryptocurrency, that’s not what we do here. The whole idea is, to some sense, we’re not touching cryptocurrency at all. We don’t buy anything … That’s what AIKON is trying to do, make this as simple as possible with no cryptocurrency nonsense,” Peek said.

“It’s an honor to work with the Space Telescope Science Institute and AIKON. Our users have already processed one billion-plus images on our platform for other customers. We can’t wait to see what wonderful things they discover in deep space,” Cliff Szu, chief executive officer of Hadron, said.

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