10 September 2020

An astronomy-driven IT machine, much more advanced than an ordinary telescope, is being built to collect huge amounts of data that will allow new discoveries about our universe. We are talking about Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international initiative to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which will eventually have over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. Initially, the SKA will use a couple of hundred of dishes in South Africa and over 100-thousand low-frequency radio antennas in Australia that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.

World-leading scientists and engineers are working on a system for SKA which will require two supercomputers each about as powerful as the best supercomputer in the world in 2019, and network technology that will see data flow at a rate 100,000 times faster than the projected global average broadband speed in 2022.

However, besides looking for new technologies that will help SKA users to access this amount of data, SKA also wants to make these data available for use through Open Science, to offer research findings to society. This is why SKA joined forces with ESCAPE.

A Suite of Technologies to deliver global open science

SKA is looking forward to gaining expertise in federated data management and platform technologies and ESCAPE is supporting the international partnership in building in-house knowledge to encompass the suite of technologies to deliver global open science. 

ESCAPE Data Infrastructure for Open Science (DIOS), which hides the complexities of data management and data access from the end users in a streamlined distributed environment, is being used by SKA. With ESCAPE DIOS, SKA is using the ESCAPE prototype data lake to improve federated distributed storage solutions, including data management and usage. On the other hand, the architecture and software components that form part of the ESCAPE Science Analysis Platform (SAP) may be adopted by SKA and implemented in SKA platform solutions. ESCAPE SAP will have the capability to access and combine data from multiple collections and stage for subsequent processing and analysis. The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) standards, implemented in ESCAPE Virtual Observatory (VO), will also be used in SKA’s data products and science archives.

SKA also recognizes the importance of ESCAPE Open-source Scientific Software and Service Repository (OSSR) in scientific explorations of the data produced by SKA, as this is much more rapid than implementing non-open, existing Software.

The ESCAPE services will offer opportunities for SKA to make its data available for Open Science, thanks to the distributed data and federated identity management solutions needed for the European Open Science Cloud.

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