AstroCompute in the Cloud Grant Program Launches

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SKA_AWS_LogoThe Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Organisation and AWS are launching the AstroCompute in the Cloud grant program to accelerate the development of innovative tools and techniques for processing, storing and analyzing the global astronomy community’s vast amounts of astronomic data in the cloud. Grant recipients will have access to credits for AWS cloud services over a two-year period and up to one petabyte (PB) of storage for data contributed by SKA partners, which AWS will make available as a public data set. Anyone associated with or using radio astronomical telescopes or radio astronomical data resources around the world is welcome to apply.

With the SKA, we will be generating more data than the entire Internet traffic at any single time,” said Tim Cornwell, the SKA Organisation Architect and administrator of the grant. “So we’re looking into innovative cloud solutions to help us cope with never-before-seen volumes of data, using techniques that are yet to be invented.”

In its first phase of construction, SKA will include two game-changing telescopes, one consisting of more than one hundred thousand low frequency antennas, and one with about two hundred large dishes. Supercomputers will translate the enormous volume of raw data coming from the telescopes into a useable form for astronomers. With observations expected to run full-time, data will flow continuously and supercomputers will process it on the fly, transmitting useful data to an archive and deleting contaminated or otherwise unnecessary data in real time. To handle the data, and develop the know-how to process it, new smart algorithms and software will be required.

Through our Scientific Computing program, our grants and our public data sets, we’ve found that when researchers have access to the tools and data they need, they find innovative ways of solving big data challenges,” said Jamie Kinney, senior manager for scientific computing, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “The SKA is an ambitious project which presents an unprecedented opportunity to leverage a tremendous amount of data to explore the Universe.”

Beyond the field of astronomy the development of cloud processing and data analysis and visualisation tools is certain to have major applications in everyday life. Supercomputing is increasingly used by pharmaceutical companies to design better drugs, by weather forecasting to refine predictions up to a week in advance, and by engineers to design smarter infrastructure.

This is an exciting opportunity, not only for our partner institutions, but for all companies and research facilities around the world dealing with astronomy data,” said Professor Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director-General. “The call is to help us explore how cloud computing can help process the data deluge we are expecting in astronomy in the 21st century – and in particular with the SKA.”

AstroCompute in the Cloud Call for Proposals is available HERE.


About the SKA Telescope

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by the SKA Organisation from Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.

Already supported by 11 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – the SKA Organisation has brought together some of world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.


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