Feeds

US atom boffins: Our cloud makes sky easier to see

Vast astro pic-stash data portal unwrapped

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

US federal boffins, in charge of archiving colossal streams of data from automated sky-scanning telescopes around the world, are pleased to announce their new "Project Deep Sky" astro data cloud portal thing.

A Deep Sky combo image of various normally hard-to-see stars in the Coma cluster, made using 500+ pictures

Ah - that's what it was! Some stars

The database in question is the astronomical one run by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, handled by computer boffins at the Lawrence Berkeley jolly-difficult-physics lab.

“The whole concept of this project is to efficiently streamline access to massive amounts of data on NERSC’s computers, basically providing a nice portal to astronomy data that we have acquired over the years,” says Peter Nugent of the Computational Research Division of the Berkeley lab, Deep Sky project lead.

According to the Berkeley IT team, right now 8,000 large astronomical images stream into the NERSC files every night: and the number and size of these increases all the time as more sophisticated telescopes and instruments come on line. According to the data boffins, their NERSC Global File (NGF) system's contents rose through 100 terabytes last year and will pass one petabyte (1015 bytes*) by 2011. For Project Deep Sky, much of this info had to be got off previous, unsearchable tape archives and processed so that different pictures of the same piece of sky could be accurately overlaid.

"One of NERSC's overriding goals is to help scientists store, process, manage, search and retrieve the ever-vaster data sets that are being produced in almost all areas of science," says Cecilia Aragon of the Berkeley Data Intensive Systems Group, software lead for Deep Sky.

Apparently it's very handy to be able to overlay or cross-reference lots of pictures of the same piece of sky, as it lets you discover transient objects like supernovae, passing asteroids etc. It can also let a crafty skywatcher detect otherwise invisible or hard-to-spot static objects, as photons pile up over time in an aggregated image - so revealing light sources which would otherwise be invisible.

"Co-adding a variety of pictures of the same piece of sky not only allows us to better see faint objects, it also allows us to spot changes in the sky. If a bright spot has moved from one image to the next, it could be an asteroid, comet or planet; if a spot appears in a few images and then disappears, it could be cosmic event like a supernova," says Nugent.

The Berkeley computer brains say they have a prototype of Deep Sky up and running - the full system is expected to go live "later this year". There's more from them here, and more detail on NERSC's IT systems can be seen here (pdf). There's also more from Nugent here. ®

*Or 250, some say. The Berkeley people don't specify.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.