The James Webb Telescope’s hard drive can’t store Warzone, but it will withstand the horrifying effects of cosmic radiation

Our colleagues at Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab) seen one thing attention-grabbing: the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a substitute for the Hubble array used to take HD photos of the farthest reaches of house, has a completely puny hard drive—68 gigabytes. What provides?!I believe this will get at some attention-grabbing questions on what makes laptop {hardware} “highly effective” or, extra precisely, well-suited to its process. The JWST, which has been pumping out some unimaginable photos (opens in new tab), is outfitted with a “Solid State Recorder” that shops the array’s collected knowledge earlier than transmitting it right down to Earth. The JWST is constructed to gather round 57GB of knowledge every day, transmitting half the quota at a time throughout two orbital home windows in the Earth’s rotation. The telescope itself has no substantial long-term storage as a result of it would not want it—that knowledge would not do anybody any good floating in house.To withstand the ambient hazards of open house, the JWST’s hard drive has been “radiation-hardened,” and it has about 10 gigs of storage greater than it wants for every day operation—intentional redundancy to make sure it retains practical capability as it degrades over its deliberate 10-year lifespan.Ultimately, I all the time discover it considerably profound to see the similar primary {hardware} and ideas at play in shopper {hardware} utilized to the most superior and cutting-edge human endeavors. It’s like seeing a blue display screen of loss of life on a billboard and being reminded it’s only a supersized laptop, but as an alternative of a bit wry chuckle you get a rush at the thought of humanity’s potential.It’s additionally a reminder that every one the uncooked computing energy in the world—teraflops, gigabytes, issues of that nature—is meaningless if not used successfully. My beefy desktop has nearly as a lot RAM as the JWST has storage, but often crashes below the weight of Chrome. I discover some of the most attention-grabbing tales in computing come from doing the most with much less, and whereas the JWST’s SSD couldn’t match Warzone and even Destiny 2 for that matter, it is exactly the proper software for its job.

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