Piz Daint Tackles Marsquakes

By Oliver Peckham

April 3, 2020

Even as researchers use supercomputers to probe the mysteries of earthquakes here on Earth, others are setting their sights on quakes just a little farther away. Researchers at ETH Zürich in Switzerland have applied supercomputing power from the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) to analyze marsquakes, illuminating the structure of Mars itself.

In 2018, NASA successfully landed a robotic detective on the Martian surface. The lander, called InSight (for INterior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), was there to investigate Mars’ seismic activity. To do that, it brought along Mars’ first seismometer, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), which was provided by ETH Zürich. 

“Marsquakes have characteristics already observed on the Moon during the Apollo era, with a long signal duration of 10 to 20 minutes due to the scattering properties of the Martian crust,” said Domenico Giardini, the ETH Zürich professor leading the research project, in an interview with CSCS. Still, despite their equipment, researchers struggled to identify the direction of the waves, mostly capturing only their distance. Mars’ unfavorable conditions – including destabilizing high winds that shook the lander – only added to the difficulties.

InSight has now been on Mars for nearly 500 sols (which are slightly longer than Earth days). During that time, it has recorded over 450 seismic events, roughly one per day. That seismic information is sent to the Marsquake Service back on Earth, which is led by ETH Zürich. The goal of the research is to deepen understanding of Mars’ internal structure by analyzing its seismic waves. 

In 2018, when InSight was still in flight, ETH Zürich was running a series of simulations to prepare for interpreting the data it would return. In essence, the researchers at ETH Zürich operated backwards, starting with around 30 different models of Mars’ internal structure and then propagating waves through those simulated structures. They then provided the resulting data to other researchers, asking them to interpret the structure from the wave data.

To run those simulations, ETH Zürich turned to CSCS’ Piz Daint supercomputer. Piz Daint is a Cray system comprising 5,704 XC50 nodes (each with an Intel Xeon E5-2690 CPU and an Nvidia Tesla P100 GPU) and 1,813 XC40 nodes (each with two Intel Xeon E5-2695 CPUs). Its two sections rate at 21.2 Linpack petaflops and 1.9 Linpack petaflops respectively, placing 6th and 185th on the most recent Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. “Without a supercomputer like Piz Daint, simulating a single model on a laptop would have taken more than two years – so about four times as long as the lander’s journey to Mars,” said Christian Böhm, a senior research scientist in the Seismology and Wave Physics group at ETH Zürich, in an interview with CSCS.

With actual data in hand, the ETH Zürich researchers are now free to compare the simulations with reality, finding similarities between the seismic waves of their imagined structures and the seismic waves of Mars’ actual, mysterious structure. Using those comparisons, the researchers will refine and repeat the models, attempting to match reality as closely as possible.

Already, the researchers have drawn some conclusions from studying 174 of the recorded marsquakes, including that the uppermost ~5-7 miles of Mars’ crust is highly altered or fractured and that it contains more volatile elements (like oxygen and carbon dioxide) than the Earth’s moon.

Header image: one of Piz Daint’s simulated marsquakes. Image courtesy ETH Zürich.

For more information on ETH Zürich’s analyses of the InSight data, visit Michèle Marti’s article here.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Nvidia Touts Strong Results on Financial Services Inference Benchmark

February 3, 2023

The next-gen Hopper family may be on its way, but that isn’t stopping Nvidia’s popular A100 GPU from leading another benchmark on its way out. This time, it’s the STAC-ML inference benchmark, produced by the Securi Read more…

Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti Faces Delisting

February 3, 2023

Quantum computing companies are seeing their market caps crumble as investors patiently await out the winner-take-all approach to technology development. Quantum computing firms such as Rigetti Computing, IonQ and D-Wave went public through mergers with blank-check companies in the last two years, with valuations at the time of well over $1 billion. Now the market capitalization of these companies are less than half... Read more…

US and India Strengthen HPC, Quantum Ties Amid Tech Tension with China

February 2, 2023

Last May, the United States and India announced the “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (iCET), aimed at expanding the countries’ partnerships in strategic technologies and defense industries across th Read more…

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Enables Transparent Medicare Outcome AI

February 2, 2023

Medical applications of AI are replete with promise, but stymied by opacity: with lives on the line, concerns over AI models’ often-inscrutable reasoning – and as a result, possible biases embedded in those models Read more…

Europe’s LUMI Supercomputer Has Officially Been Accepted

February 1, 2023

“LUMI is officially here!” proclaimed the headline of a blog post written by Pekka Manninen, director of science and technology for CSC, Finland’s state-owned IT center. The EuroHPC-organized supercomputer’s most Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 2069893598

Cost-effective and accurate genomics analysis with Sentieon on AWS

This blog post was contributed by Don Freed, Senior Bioinformatics Scientist, and Brendan Gallagher, Head of Business Development at Sentieon; and Olivia Choudhury, PhD, Senior Partner Solutions Architect, Sujaya Srinivasan, Genomics Solutions Architect, and Aniket Deshpande, Senior Specialist, HPC HCLS at AWS. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1453953692

Microsoft and NVIDIA Experts Talk AI Infrastructure

As AI emerges as a crucial tool in so many sectors, it’s clear that the need for optimized AI infrastructure is growing. Going beyond just GPU-based clusters, cloud infrastructure that provides low-latency, high-bandwidth interconnects and high-performance storage can help organizations handle AI workloads more efficiently and produce faster results. Read more…

Intel’s Gaudi3 AI Chip Survives Axe, Successor May Combine with GPUs

February 1, 2023

Intel's paring projects and products amid financial struggles, but AI products are taking on a major role as the company tweaks its chip roadmap to account for more computing specifically targeted at artificial intellige Read more…

Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti Faces Delisting

February 3, 2023

Quantum computing companies are seeing their market caps crumble as investors patiently await out the winner-take-all approach to technology development. Quantum computing firms such as Rigetti Computing, IonQ and D-Wave went public through mergers with blank-check companies in the last two years, with valuations at the time of well over $1 billion. Now the market capitalization of these companies are less than half... Read more…

US and India Strengthen HPC, Quantum Ties Amid Tech Tension with China

February 2, 2023

Last May, the United States and India announced the “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (iCET), aimed at expanding the countries’ partnership Read more…

Intel’s Gaudi3 AI Chip Survives Axe, Successor May Combine with GPUs

February 1, 2023

Intel's paring projects and products amid financial struggles, but AI products are taking on a major role as the company tweaks its chip roadmap to account for Read more…

Roadmap for Building a US National AI Research Resource Released

January 31, 2023

Last week the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force released its final report and roadmap for building a national AI infrastructure to include comput Read more…

PFAS Regulations, 3M Exit to Impact Two-Phase Cooling in HPC

January 27, 2023

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” pose a number of health risks to humans, with more suspected but not yet confirmed Read more…

Multiverse, Pasqal, and Crédit Agricole Tout Progress Using Quantum Computing in FS

January 26, 2023

Europe-based quantum computing pioneers Multiverse Computing and Pasqal, and global bank Crédit Agricole CIB today announced successful conclusion of a 1.5-yea Read more…

Critics Don’t Want Politicians Deciding the Future of Semiconductors

January 26, 2023

The future of the semiconductor industry was partially being decided last week by a mix of politicians, policy hawks and chip industry executives jockeying for Read more…

Riken Plans ‘Virtual Fugaku’ on AWS

January 26, 2023

The development of a national flagship supercomputer aimed at exascale computing continues to be a heated competition, especially in the United States, the Euro Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

SC22 Booth Videos

AMD @ SC22
Altair @ SC22
AWS @ SC22
Ayar Labs @ SC22
CoolIT @ SC22
Cornelis Networks @ SC22
DDN @ SC22
Dell Technologies @ SC22
HPE @ SC22
Intel @ SC22
Intelligent Light @ SC22
Lancium @ SC22
Lenovo @ SC22
Microsoft and NVIDIA @ SC22
One Stop Systems @ SC22
Penguin Solutions @ SC22
QCT @ SC22
Supermicro @ SC22
Tuxera @ SC22
Tyan Computer @ SC22
  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire