_This week, PopSci is peeking under the hood of some of the nation’s biggest and baddest supercomputers–the machines that turn big data into big discoveries, big technologies, and big leaps forward. Over the last week, we managed to get each of the busy machines in this series on the phone to see what they were up to on during a particular day. They were happy to share.

Today: Meet Franklin, a searingly fast Cray.

Name: Franklin

TOP500 Rank: 27

Vital Stats: System: Cray XT4 supercomputer. Theoretical peak speed: 352 teraflops (that’s trillions of calculations per second). 38,128 compute cores. Supported by a High Performance Storage System where users archive their data. The HPSS system has a peak capacity of 59 petabytes. On Oct. 26, some 98,750 files were transferred into or out of the HPSS system.

Date: October 27, 2011

What Are You Doing?:

  • Looking for oil and gas reservoirs in whole new ways, but this isn’t wildcatting. By stitching together geophysical images from a variety of sources, including seismic data and electrical conductivity, we can paint a much better picture of the Earth’s crust. This 3-D imaging of the crust can lead to more accurate resource exploration as well as a better understanding of the nuances of our planets outermost layer. It is also informing the hunt for potential CO2 sequestration sites, where carbon dioxide could be stored underground to mitigate the effects of global warming.
  • Climate change modeling, particularly as it pertains to ocean currents. Today, using numerical models to examine the how climate change may affect Earth-wide ocean circulations that are driven by changes in heat and water salinity. Looking at time scales ranging from years to decades, scientists are using these models to explore how important currents like the Gulf Stream will likely be impacted by a warming planet, and how those changes in currents will in turn further influence climate. They are also examining future potential freshwater events that could impact salinity and ocean circulations, like widespread melting of the ice caps.

Catch up with more supercomputers here.