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At the NASA Ames Research Center outside Sunnyvale, Calif., Christine Heincke sorts out the serpent's nest of water hoses making up the cooling system for the arc jet. Testing surface materials for spacecrafts, the jet sends hot gas at supersonic speeds, reaching up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite supercomputing powers, physical testing is needed to know whether spacecrafts can deal with the air pressure when re-entering the earth atmosphere.
The NASA Ames supercomputer can perform 61 trillion operations per second, making it the fourth most powerful computer in the world. Besides spacecraft development it is used for hurricane forecasts and predict the merging of black holes.