UK astronomy enters multi-petabyte era

Author: George Beckett
Posted: 28 May 2019 | 10:43

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which EPCC has been involved with for over a decade, will soon pass an important milestone as it moves from construction to commissioning.

LSST is a next-generation sky survey facility under construction in Chile. The UK astronomy community is playing a full role in preparation for the start of LSST operations in 2022. The UK is a significant contributor to this $1bn US-led project. EPCC collaborates with the University of Edinburgh’s Wide-Field Astronomy Unit and astronomy departments around the UK to deliver a UK Data Access Centre, host the LSST survey, and provide computational tools to enable researchers to exploit the half an exabyte of observations that will be produced during the 10-year survey.

The LSST:UK consortium is running a four-phase, 20-year programme of research and development, addressing the computational demands of telescope construction, commissioning, early science and full survey operations, all supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. In the summer of 2019, the UK consortium will begin Phase B of its programme: a 4-year, £5m R&D project in which EPCC staff will finalise and deploy the first full version of the LSST Science Platform ready for full-data-rate testing and telescope science validation.

It is an exciting time for UK astronomy, which is participating in a number of other grand-challenge projects including the Square Kilometre Array, the Euclid space mission, and the GAIA space survey.

This move into the era of multi-petabyte data analysis represents a step-change in UK astronomy, and EPCC will be on hand to ensure a successful transition to the new era.

Picture shows an LSSST lens. Image by Safran.

Author

George Beckett, EPCC