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Storing servers in space or on the moon

Image credit: Photo by Manuel Geissinger from Pexels

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Oct 29, 2020
Servers take a lot of space and this will keep on increasing. What if we store them in space in form of satellites or on the moon?

They can be solar-powered. They require minimum physical maintenance.

Advantages:
  1. Space and energy-efficient computing
  2. Regular trips to space for physical maintenance/ repair will increase travel speed and help develop other aspects related to human life in space. It will also prime us when/ if we do settle in space.
  3. Development for regular maintenance bots
What are the problems you see in storing servers in space? How can we solve them?
Any other advantages you would like to point out?
2
Creative contributions

Requires specialized hardware

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Eduardo Ramos
Eduardo Ramos Mar 07, 2021
Our current processors and chips used in common data centers cannot be shipped to space and work as intended, all chips and hardware need to be prepared for very low temperatures and very high levels of radiation exposure.

Besides that, we use light/fiber cables for fast and low latency communication, using satellites/radio frequency to communicate will be an increase of latency and low bandwidth, limiting a lot of the applications and services that can be shipped to space.

If the main problem is cooling, Microsoft had a successful experiment bring servers to the seafloor:
https://news.microsoft.com/innovation-stories/project-natick-underwater-datacenter/
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw4 months ago
I was going to suggest storing them underwater. If physical space is the issue, why not make use of the vast desert areas? I can imagine there being temperature factors, but surely this could quite easily be resolved by cooling systems. It would also have an impact on the ecosystem, but of all the ecosystems on earth, the desert has been the least disturbed. I'm sure it would survive if we utilized a tiny piece of it for storing servers.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
Spook Louw plus powering everything on solar energy shouldn't be a problem in the desert.

This gave me an idea for a session.. we should come up with efficient ways of cleaning the dust/sand off of the solar panels. It will be needed for deserts and Mars
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni5 months ago
Thank you for the contribution, Eduardo Ramos ! I agree with the problems you mentioned. High temperature is also another one since day-time temperatures on the moon go up to 127 degrees C.

I also like the idea of storing them on the seafloor. The main intention behind the session was to avoid creating more and more dead space (with ever-increasing servers) and Microsoft's project helps with that.

Iceland-based servers meet most needs efficiently

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salemandreus
salemandreus Apr 01, 2021
Iceland Advantages:
  • Cheap cooling
  • 99+% clean energy - Geothermic - Cooling/Heating - Hydropower - The cheapest renewable energy
  • Storage Space - They're building storage towers!
  • Latency - Particularly low for North America and Europe due to proximity - A world leader in fibre speed and rollout .
  • Logistics/maintenance - Easiest
Disadvantages:
  • Fixedgeographic location
Undersea For low-latency local data centres (probably smaller ones).
Advantages:
  • Proximity
  • Cooling
Disadvantages
  • Hard to scale up size
  • Potential environmental impact
  • Maintenance logistics (compared to mainland)
Space For low-speed long-term data storage
Advantages:
  • Potentially utilise powerful solar (stellar) energy
  • Cooling
Disadvantages:
  • Latency
  • Large scale storage servers still require immense power at scale - data centres consume 10% of the world's electricity.
  • Maintenance logistics
  • Damage risks from debris and radiation
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 months ago
Thank you for showing the comparison salemandreus ! The advantages of Iceland-based servers are high. To solve the problem of "fixed geographic location", such servers can be placed in similar climate zones (as that of Iceland) in different corners of Earth - a few in the Northern hemisphere and some in the Southern hemisphere.

For short-term use in a particular location that is far from these servers, satellites can host the servers and rotate and position themselves above the location where they are needed. Multiple satellites can cover all the zones that have a high latency from the far-away ground-bound servers.

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General comments

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Povilas S
Povilas S9 months ago
Storing on the moon can have serious negative influence on data transmission speed. But I like the idea of servers being in an unclaimed space region (like international waters) therefore representing equal international availability to data. This might not necessarily become the case, but it would be nice if it was. It could become a symbol for united virtual space. Now, even though internet is considered international, there are still limiting country-related regulations and sometimes they are pretty harsh, e.g. LinkedIn banned in Russia because of its servers being stored outside of Russia's territory.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic9 months ago
Shielding the electronics from radiation would make such servers more expensive, but it would entice us to work on this problem sooner rather than later when we are a space-faring civilization.

The sheer amount of equipment needed in space would make it cost/resource-heavy.

Physically distancing the data source from the users would add lag time in communication.

This becomes much more viable once we have the capacity to build electronics from resources in space.