Astronomy projects supported by ADACS and boosted by Pawsey expertise

Three astronomy projects were awarded embedded technical specialist support as part of the Astronomy Data and Compute Services (ADACS) Project, funded by Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL) and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

Increasing the accessibility of our Solar System’s unique data set, gaining insights on the chronology of surfaces of planetary bodies in our solar system, reducing the technical knowledge barriers to HPC to analyse and visualise data sets, and optimising visibility storage for astronomy data are some of the challenges that will be tackled by researchers on these projects.

ADACS is a collaboration between Swinburne University, Curtin University, and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, funded by AAL, via the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.  ADACS provides focused astronomy training, support and expertise to assist astronomers to maximise the scientific return from data and computing infrastructure.

Opened earlier this year, the national call for proposals sought to identify projects which would benefit from having an ADACS technical specialist embedded into their astronomy project for a period of at least 12 months.

One of the selected projects came from the Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin University, the largest planetary science research group in the Southern Hemisphere. The embedded specialist will help this group to get the most out of Australia’s unique dataset that Desert Fireball Network has built, massively increasing the accessibility and utility of the data, with a commensurate increase in scientific collaborations.

Two groups from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) were the other successful candidates. By developing a Framework for Analysis and Visualisation of Enormous datasets Remotely (FAVER), one of the groups is aiming to increase researcher productivity and enhance scientific returns on investment in HPC and HPD facilities, while also reducing the technical knowledge barriers to HPC to analyse and visualise data sets.

The group expect FAVER to be beneficial to other astronomical communities (e.g. radio astronomy datacubes, optical astronomy images), as well as several other domains such as particle physics, geophysics, oceans sciences and meteorology. The community nature of the tools should mean that there will be a strong drive to develop them further and enhance the codebase.

The final project focuses on developing a new deep spectral line imaging pipeline and optimised storage of UV-grid data for Australia Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) that can then be used by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project – one of the largest scientific endeavours in history. This project will also optimise visibility storage methodology for ASKAP. Focusing on a particular survey, most of the resulting pipeline management deployment methodologies and the software will be useful for other ASKAP surveys as well.

The involvement of the embedded technical specialist is expected to positively impact the successful project groups with project outputs benefitting the astronomy community as well as providing advantages to other domains.

This is the pilot year for this embedded technical specialist approach. We would like to thank all the applicants who submitted project proposals and congratulate the successful projects.