Large Collaborations and Partnerships

Large Collaborations and Partnerships

The Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy continuously seeks to build national and international partnerships with institutions, and individuals who are interested in research projects we are actively involved in. Please read below about our large collaborations and international partnerships.

Large Collaborations

  • Cube Analysis and Rendering Tool for Astronomy (CARTA)

The Cube Analysis and Rendering Tool for Astronomy (CARTA) has been principally designed to provide an efficient, scalable platform to visualize three-dimensional data products that are produced by radio interferometers.  Multi-dimensional data products (data cubes) produced by radio interferometers vary in size and volume – short observations of small patches of the sky may be viewed on a laptop, while long surveys of large areas require much larger computing systems to visualize the whole (or parts of) the scientific image.  CARTA provides a standardized toolbox with the flexibility of being able to be deployed on a variety of platforms  desktops, servers and distributed architectures (cloud based frameworks). The latter allows users to use CARTA without the possible complication of having to install it on their local machine.  CARTA has versatility built into it, and can be controlled through a Python interface; this is particularly useful since lightweight instances of CARTA with limited functionality can efficiently be deployed on temporary virtual machines – such as clouds.

  • CyberSKA

CyberSKA is an interactive platform, which offers a versatile interface to solve the many problems that radio astronomers face when collaborating on science projects with the Square Kilometre Array and its associated pathfinders. CyberSKA provides the social networking functionality that has become part of the astronomer ‘s daily life. The portal provides a unified space for scientists to interact through commonly used collaboration tools such as blogs, tagging, and wikis.  It also allows users to share various types of media and documents. Using CyberSKA, scientists can plan projects, manage teams, write papers and draft proposals all within a single interface. Analysis and data processing tools are integrated into and accessible through the portal, enabling users to make tangible progress in their research projects.

  • G-ALFA Continuum Transit Survey (GALFACTS)

The G-ALFA Continuum Transit Survey (GALFACTS) is a 5-year project that uses the ALFA instrument on the Arecibo telescope to perform a sensitive (90 micro-Jy) mapping of the entire Arecibo continuum sky in all four Stokes parameters.  GALFACTS comprises high multi-frequency observations; the 300-MHz (1225-1525 MHz) bandwidth is distributed over 1000-channels which further helps to reduce the effects of RFI (radio frequency interference) and is essential for deducing the frequency-dependent Faraday rotation effects for polarized emission from radio continuum sources.  GALFACTS addresses a variety of scientific questions:

•Polarimetric constraints on the large scale Galactic magnetic fields.

•Magnetic fields of galactic phenomena – supernova remnants (SNRs), molecular clouds and HII regions.

•3-D Faraday tomography of the pervasive magneto-ionic interstellar medium.

•High resolution imaging of galactic structure and sources – including Galactic loops and spurs, low surface-brightness SNRs, HII regions and the ISM. This will rely on multi-wavelength synergies to identify thermal and non-thermal components of the ISM.

•Sensitive catalogue of point sources, which will include information on the polarization and variability of these astrophysical sources.

•Accurate characterization of the Galactic synchrotron foreground. This is essential for studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background at higher frequencies.

Prof. Russ Taylor, the director of IDIA, is one of the Principal Investigators (PIs) of GALFACTS. The team organization and collaboration on GALFACTS is being done using the CyberSKA portal. GALFACTS is a key driver of the requirements of the CyberSKA platform, and informs the development of both the collaborative aspects of the portal and the integration of scientific tools to deal with the vast amount of GALFACTS data.

  • SKA Science Data Processor (SDP)

The SKA Science Data Processor is a key element in the global SKA radio telescope project. The SKA Science Data Processor (SDP) element focuses on the design of the computing hardware platforms, software, and algorithms needed to process science data from the data correlators or non-imaging processors into science data products. The data rates involved in this will exceed that of the entire global internet traffic per day. Prof. Rob Simmonds, the associate director of IDIA, leads the Data Delivery (DELIV) work package within SDP. This is responsible for making data products available to SKA Regional Centres (SRCs) and to end users. Work in this package includes designing standard’s based data access and search mechanisms, data transfer and transfer scheduling tools, user interfaces and system interfaces for connecting to the SRCs. Prof. Simmonds is also responsible for the design of the SDP Observatory Support Tools that support science exploration at the main processing sites in South Africa and Australia, and is a member of the SDP core architecture team. IDIA team members work closely with DELIV collaborators from groups based at the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, the Oxford e-Research Centre, ASTRON, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía and South Africa ‘s Space Advisory Company.

  • Iziko Planeterium and Digital Dome

IDIA works with the Iziko Digital Dome on the development of modalities for astronomical visualization with planetarium domes. The Iziko Planetarium includes 6, Sony 4K laser projectors providing an 8K fulldome (64 MP) projection system powered by 12 NVidia P6000 GPUs. Fulldome 360° environments allow large audiences to experience multi-sensory, immersive experiences, without the need for VR headsets.

  • Advanced European Network of E-infrastructures for Astronomy with the SKA (AENEAS)

The Advanced European Network of E-infrastructures for Astronomy with the SKA (AENEAS) is a response to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Work Programme, and has the primary objective of developing a concept and design for a distributed, federated European Science Data Centre (ESDC). The ESDC supports the activities of the astronomical community in realizing the scientific goals of the SKA. AENEAS provides the framework for the conceptualization and design of the ESDC. AENEAS’s core activity is international collaboration related to the development of science data centres, especially since the transport and management of scientific data requires the participation of the European user community as well as scientists from the SKA host countries. IDIA is a one of the non-EU SKA member organizations that will feature quite prominently in AENEAS’s international collaboration.

International Partnerships