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High-End Computing Program

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NASA's challenging mission to explore space and understand the universe and the Earth within it requires the agency to innovatively apply and extend humankind's most advanced capabilities, technologies, and knowledge. High-end computing is one such powerful leading-edge tool.

The mission of NASA's High-End Computing (HEC) Program is to:

Plan and provision high-end computing systems and services to support NASA's mission needs. Operate and manage these HEC resources for the benefit of agency users, customers, and stakeholders.

Our mission is guided by the vision that:

NASA's HEC resources are relied on as an essential and pervasive partner by the breadth of agency science, engineering, and technology activities, enabling rapid advances in insight and dramatically enhancing mission achievements.

Four top-level HEC Program goals will lead to accomplishing the mission and achieving the vision:

  • Provide effective production HEC resources and services to enable pervasive, timely, and significant mission impacts.
  • Infuse HEC into NASA's scientific and engineering communities.
  • Assure preparedness to meet NASA’s future modeling, simulation, and analysis needs.
  • Ensure that NASA HEC resources and activities are well-managed and wisely used.


NASA's mission needs are described at the highest level in the agency's Strategic Plan. The HEC Program is enabling achievement of all four Strategic Goals in the current (2022) plan, as illustrated by the following examples:

Theme: Discover
Strategic Goal 1: Expand Human Knowledge through New Scientific Discoveries.

Visualization of hurricanes Irma and Jose in the Atlantic Ocean

Sea salt particles get caught up in the swirling winds of hurricanes Irma and Jose on September 7, 2017. NASA captured the interaction of hurricanes and aerosols during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season by combining satellite data with sophisticated mathematical models that describe the underlying physical processes. William Putman, Anton S. Darmenov, NASA/Goddard; Matthew R. Radcliff, USRA; Aaron E. Lepsch, Ellen T. Gray, ADNET Systems, Inc. Learn more.

  • Modeling the Earth and assimilating observational data to shorten the time from observations to answers for important, leading-edge science questions.
  • Analyzing massive amount of Earth observing satellite data at the global scale, extracting information and turning into knowledge and wisdom.
  • Modeling the solar environment to better understand the causes of space weather as it affects the Earth and other planets in the solar system.
  • Modeling physical regimes ranging from the solar system to the universe to help understand observations.
  • Developing and refining theories of the evolution of the universe using computational modeling.
  • Performing simulations supporting understanding of the space environment’s effects on astronaut health.
Visualization of Space Launch System (SLS) in flight

Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B booster separation flowfield simulated using NASA's FUN3D code. The crewed vehicle features a different, more powerful second stage. Jamie Meeroff, Henry Lee, NASA/Ames. Learn more.

Theme: Explore

Strategic Goal 2: Extend Human Presence to the Moon and on towards Mars for Sustainable Long-term Exploration, Development, and Utilization.

  • Simulating NASA and commercial spacecraft systems and subsystems supporting design and operational scenario evaluation.
  • Simulating complete life-sustaining environments to accelerate their planning, design, and evaluation for long-term human presence in space.
  • Modeling and simulating instrument behavior, performance, and impact.


Visualization of Phantom 3 quadcopter

Visualization of the flow of NASA’s modified design of a complete DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter configuration in hover. Simulations revealed the complex motions of air due to interactions between the rotors and the airframe. Patricia Ventura Diaz, NASA/Ames. Learn more.

Theme: Innovate
Strategic Goal 3: Catalyze Economic Growth and Drive Innovation to Address National Challenges.

  • Engaging industry partners in the use of NASA modeling and simulation systems architected and operated for aerospace applications.
  • Offering advanced HEC education programs and internships and reaching out to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and professional organizations through conference participation, supercomputing center tours, and presentations.


Photo of Pleiades supercomputer

The Pleiades supercomputer's rack-based architecture allows NASA to continually increase the system's computing capability through hardware upgrades without needing to expand its physical footprint. The current configuration of Pleiades is nearly 15 times more powerful than it was when the system was originally installed in 2008. Learn more.

Theme: Advance

Strategic Goal 4: Enhance Capabilities and Operations to Catalyze Current and Future Mission Success.

  • Providing users with computing architectures well-suited to their applications and delivering a full-service HEC offering.
  • Striking a balance between upgrading HEC technologies and minimizing impact on users.
  • Maintaining a high level of system availability and providing uninterrupted access to computational resources and user data.
  • Determining appropriate shares of the resources for each NASA Mission Directorate and closely tracking usage to ensure maximum productivity.


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