Yenra : Astronomy : Comets : Deep Impact mission will drive even more traffic to NASA's Web portal, already burdened by the endurance of the Mars rovers

Deep Impact

The NASA Web portal continues to drive high traffic numbers -- more than seventeen billion hits in 2004, report both NASA and Speedera. Speedera delivers content from the space agency's portal to visitors seeking access to the site from around the world. Popular events on the NASA Web site, including the ongoing Mars Exploration Rover mission entering its remarkable second year, as well as upcoming major projects such as the launch and comet encounter of NASA's Deep Impact satellite mission in 2005, are expected to drive continued high levels of traffic, according to NASA officials.

Speedera and eTouch Systems, the prime contractor who manages the NASA portal, both say they are girding themselves for the pending traffic surge. eTouch Systems, which provides NASA with its Web content management system, partnered with Speedera to provide a broad suite of content delivery network services for the space agency. This combined solution proved more than robust enough to handle the massive spikes in traffic triggered by the twin Mars Rovers that landed on the Red Planet in early 2004. During the January landings, Speedera reported that its network handled peak load of nearly seven gigabits per second for NASA as the space agency said it received more than four billion hits to its Web site in that month alone. As the mission continues, NASA officials expect interest from Web visitors to keep growing.

"Speedera and eTouch have both been excellent partners to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in providing critical support to the Mars Rover Web presence," said Jeanne Holm, Chief Knowledge Architect with NASA's JPL. "They helped support more than 17 billion hits to the NASA portal in 2004. We are delighted with Speedera's reliable service and excellent customer focus. I couldn't have asked for better partners than Speedera and eTouch Systems during this very busy year at the space agency."

The estimated number of visitors in 2004 is well over 142 million, according to traffic studies by both NASA and Speedera, with the average visitor spending more than eight minutes browsing across 14 pages each time they visited the NASA site. Interest continues to remain high surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover mission as the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity have posted more than 50,000 images of the Red Planet on the Mars Rover site within the NASA Portal. In the meantime, other space missions continue to drive traffic to the Web portal, including the Cassini space probe flyby, which is snapping images of Saturn, its moons, and its rings.

NASA officials say they expect another busy year in 2005 as scientists prepare to aim a disc-shaped copper projectile directly into the oncoming path of a comet to blast a crater through the comet's skin. Launch date of the Deep Impact satellite mission is January 12, and the probe is expected to collide with the racing comet sometime in July.

"As the Mars Rover and Deep Impact missions continue to fire the imagination of the next generation of space explorers, down here on Earth we will be working closely with our key partner eTouch to ensure that NASA site visitors can continue to access graphically rich content in under two seconds," said Ajit Gupta of Speedera. "By providing eTouch's elegant content management solution combined with our on-demand distributed network, NASA can focus on what it does best -- exploring outer space."

"Speedera's architecture has proved robust enough to meet even the highest demands of Web traffic from around the globe -- the Mars Rover experience is proof of that," said Aniruddha Gadre of eTouch. "Going forward in 2005, we are confident that together we can ensure access to NASA's Web portal and meet high traffic demands from planned and unplanned events."

Speedera (now Akamai) provides distributed application hosting and content delivery services.