Open access to ASKAP data will enable multiple breakthroughs

An external view of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Credit: iVEC.

22 June 2015

CSIRO’s newest radio telescope, the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), is much more than the physical components that make up the telescope – a vital part of the project is how to provide access to the wave of data flowing from the project.

Once fully completed, each ASKAP antenna will be equipped with CSIRO’s innovative new receiver technology, the phased array feed (PAF). These receivers provide an extremely wide field‐of‐view and enable ASKAP to carry out sensitive large‐scale surveys of the Southern Sky.

The CSIRO ASKAP Science Data Archive (CASDA) is one of three key sub-systems that forms the core component of ASKAP computing. CASDA is the primary point for storing, managing and sharing fully calibrated and science-ready data products, and also provides access to these processed data products to the astronomers.

In full operation, CASDA will archive and manage around 5 PB of data each year.

Data collections from the major ASKAP surveys will be openly available to the global astronomy community, and it is anticipated that the data archive will be used by at least 1500 astronomers for various science research projects.

“Open data is really crucial to getting the best science from your telescope,” says Simon Johnston, Head of Astrophysics at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, “For the same observation, you’ve got two pieces of clever science... that’s the really great advantage of having open access data.”

ASKAP was one of a number of projects featured at the Australian Open Data Showcase last week for the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). At the event, a video was shown about ASKAP and the work underway on the science data archive through the CASDA application.

“The great thing about archives is that you can put [the data] in a very central location, and then anybody can get it from there,” says Jessica Chapman, CASDA project leader, “CASDA provides search and discovery tools using the CSIRO Data Access Portal (DAP) and international Virtual Observatory protocols, and metadata will also be provided to ANDS Research Data Australia to enable discovery as part of the Major Open Data Collections.”

For more information on the CASDA project and the ANDS MODC, watch the ASKAP video on YouTube [external link].

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