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To secure and support the SKA it was critical for Western Australia to establish world-class Information and Communication Technology capabilities.In 2009, as part of their Super Science Initiative, the Australian Government allocated $80M to iVEC to build the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre with the aim of supporting the SKA pathfinders and Western Australia’s bid for the SKA. The Pawsey Centre now houses the most powerful supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere (‘Magnus’) and ICRAR is one of its prime users.

Prior to 2014, ICRAR’s ICT program focused on developing core capabilities through development of a Data Intensive Research Pathfinder, Conceptual Design Studies for the SKA and High Performance Computing (supercomputing). The Data Intensive Research Pathfinder involved the implementation and commissioning of dataflow and data archiving infrastructure for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA archive has been fully operational since July 2013 and is receiving data from the array at a rate of up to 600 MB/s. The system provides data migration to various partner institutions around the world at the same rate. In addition it currently serves user requests at a rate of up to 600 MB/s. Implementation of the MWA archive helped ICRAR secure leadership of the Data Layer task in the Science Data Processing (SDP) Consortium for the SKA.

Read more about the Pawsey Centre and the MWA Data Archive

ICRAR’s ICT program has recently evolved into the Data Intensive Astronomy program, focused on developing the data management and processing infrastructure for the SKA. The program is divided into three streams –

  • Science Data Processor (SDP) Pre-construction (part of the SKA Pre-construction program)
  • Survey Science Support
  • System Support

The Survey Science Support and System Support streams will provide on-going future support to various global astronomical observatories.

Meet the Data Intensive Astronomy Team

Case Study: Think Bottom Up

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Data Intensive Astronomy Focuses

Science Data Processor (SDP) Pre-construction

The Science Data Processor will develop all the necessary infrastructure to produce scientific data from the raw signals of the SKA’s radio correlators. ICRAR is a member of the SKA SDP Consortium and is leading the data element of the project, which involves identifying data flow and data life-cycle requirements and creating and verifying prototype solutions. We are also assisting five other work streams – system engineering, architectural design, computing platform, local monitoring and control and project management.

Survey Science Support

Survey Science Support broadly aims to optimise the productivity of data intensive science projects, including the SKA. The project investigates the feasibility of candidate Science Data Processor solutions for the SKA, linking it strongly to the SDP Pre-construction project. Part of this involves working with collaborators to investigate cloud computing solutions for processing high volumes of data. The Survey Science Support project also supports theSkyNet (crowd-sourced computing power campaign) and a number of current and future surveys including GLEAM (MWA), DINGO (ASKAP), WALLABY (ASKAP), GAMA (Multi-Wavelength) and CRAFT (ASKAP).

System Support

ICRAR’s Data Intensive Astronomy team also supports the maintenance of computing infrastructure at our UWA node, including the servers, the server room, and the storage servers, plus auxiliary equipment such as the network connection between servers at the Pawsey Centre and UWA.