NASA is lending some of its supercomputer seigniorpower to the COVID-19 study. NASA’s supercomputers have been working on a range of projects, including basic science, from how viruses interact with cells in humans, to genetic risk factors, to screening potential therapeutic drugs. NASA has joined a coalition of agencies that are pairing supercomputer resources with proposals to conduct COVID-19 studies using high-end computing.
The work was organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and other partners involved in the project include IBM, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Amazon, Microsoft, and others. The project was also attended by the National Laboratory of the Ministry of Energy, the National Science Foundation and a number of universities. The Alliance supported a total of 64 projects and was open to new proposals.
So far, four projects have been matched with NASA. NASA is well aware that COVID-19 research is not the norm, but it has the expertise of supercomputers to help scientists in such research. Supercomputers are ideal for handling massive amounts of data. Typically, NASA uses its computing resources to simulate air quality and water movement softer on Earth for climate research.
NASA’s supercomputers are also used to find exoplanets, study the behavior of black holes, and design aerospace or space vehicles. One of the supercomputers being used is amets, which is used to identify genetic risk factors for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a complication associated with COVID-19, which often requires a ventilator to help the patient breathe when the disease causes fluid build-up in the lungs.
NASA is working with healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente in Northern California to conduct the COVID-19 study. NASA says not all patients have the same risk of developing ARDS. The researchers hope to compare the groups to analyze the relationship between genes and COVID-19 results. Supercomputers are also using molecular geometry to look for possible drug treatments. The project, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, runs software on supercomputers to process new 3D models of molecules from known chemical compositions. Many other research projects are also under way.