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Curiosity phones home through Amazon cloud

That’s no rover … it’s a cloud computer!

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has outlined how its infrastructure was used to power mars.jpl.nasa.gov in order to “…deliver successfully engaging experiences of Mars to the public” without going titsup at peak traffic times.

In a case study outlining the cloud rig assembled to bring news of Curiosity’s adventures from one world to another, AWS says it was briefed to handle “hundreds of gigabits/second of traffic for hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers.”

The rig used just about every acronym in the AWS cloud dictionary, as is evident in the case study and image describing the setup below.

AWS’ Mars rover video retrieval rig

As is proper in a public cloud, the case study says NASA switched off a lot of the kit described above once Curiosity landed and the world resumed interest in giant sportfests, Pussy Riot and whichever Kardashian spruiked a product today.

NASA is still using AWS to bring new images from Curiosity to Earth, in ways AWS explains as follows:

NASA leverages Amazon Simple Workflow Service (Amazon SWF) to copy the latest images from Mars to Amazon S3. Metadata is stored in Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon SWF triggers provisioning of Amazon EC2 instances to process images as each transmission from Curiosity is relayed to Earth.

We suspect the race is now on to figure out the identity of, and hack into, NASA’s S3 buckets. If that crack happens, let the PhotoShopping commence! ®

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