All of the top five answers to The Martian: Does it really take a supercomputer to calculate spaceflight maneuvers? are essentially "no, orbital mechanics isn't rocket science". Okay I have used some artistic license there, but these days even laptops do gigaflops, and that's not even counting the GPU; optimizing trajectories like a flight from Earth to the Moon are not likely going to need supercomputers as near as I can tell.
So I was surprised to read the following:
Aitken will consist of 1,150 nodes, with each node using two 20-core second generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Mellonox InfiniBand interconnects. Total numbers for Aitken come to 46,080 cores and 221TB of memory across 1,150 nodes for 3.69 petaflops of theoretical peak performance.
Aitken will reside at NASA Ames' new modular supercomputing facility, which had its grand opening last Thursday. The new facility is based on a Modular Data Center (MDC) design, and can accommodate 16 modules, with Aitken claiming the first. Aitken will aid in landing astronauts on the South Pole region of the moon by 2024, as part of NASA's Artemis program.
The new supercomputer will be used by more than 1,500 scientists and engineers from across the country, including on projects like developing a more efficient quadcopter or simulating the inside of our sun. The job at the top of the priority list will be running modeling and simulations of the entry, decent and landing to the moon for the Artemis project.
Question: Does the "modeling and simulations of the entry, decent and landing to the moon" really need 46,000+ cores, 3.69 petaflops and 221 TB of memory?
What does "entry" even mean when landing on the Moon?