visualization technology from Silicon Graphics , NASA engineers are
overcoming the challenges of communicating across 106 million miles of space
to remotely pilot NASA’s two Mars Exploration Rovers — including Spirit,
which landed on the surface of Mars on Jan. 3.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif., are using SGI(R) Onyx(R) 300 systems and the OpenGL Performer(TM)
real-time graphics API to combine 360-degree photographic images taken each
morning by the Spirit Rover with terrain data to create a virtual Mars
environment. This environment integrates the 3D visualization of the
surrounding Martian geography with an interactive model of the Spirit Rover.
As a result, NASA engineers can safely pilot the Rover while compensating for
round-trip space communication lag times of up to 20 minutes.

Each of JPL’s two SGI Onyx 300 supercomputers features a dual-pipeline
SGI(R) InfiniteReality4(TM) graphics subsystem, allowing engineers to
visualize the virtual Mars in a 3D stereographic format providing better depth
perception while piloting the Rover. As the JPL team interacts in the virtual
Mars environment, they create scenarios from a list of approximately 900
different Rover commands. Alternative scenarios can be simulated and examined
on Earth, with only the safest and most scientifically valuable selected for
execution on Mars by the Rover.

Building on the success of the earlier Mars Pathfinder mission-which also
used SGI(R) Onyx(R) systems for visualization — the two new SGI Onyx systems
were configured and provided by Rand Federal, an authorized SGI reseller. JPL
is using one Onyx system to help pilot the NASA Spirit Rover and the other
system will be used to pilot the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, scheduled
to land Jan. 24 on the other side of the planet.

“Remotely piloting a robotic Rover on the surface of Mars requires the
most sophisticated computing technology available, which made SGI Onyx 300 an
ideal solution for JPL,” said Bob Peach, president of Rand Federal, a systems
integrator with expertise in technical and scientific computing located in
Phoenix, Ariz. “We are proud to continue our Just in Time solution supply
relationship with JPL and SGI, and we look forward to more exciting NASA
missions in the future.”

“For more than two decades, SGI has been a proud collaborator with NASA,
and this latest mission is a thrilling new chapter in our working
relationship,” said Paul McNamara, senior vice president and general manager,
Visual Systems Group, SGI. “Not surprisingly, NASA has once again uncovered
some of the most exciting and fundamentally important uses for computer
graphics. SGI is delighted to see its Onyx graphics supercomputers and OpenGL
Performer contribute to this exciting and successful effort.”

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 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, the SGI cube, the SGI logo, InfiniteReality,
OpenGL and Onyx are registered trademarks and InfiniteReality4, OpenGL
Performer 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.