National Research Council and Compute Canada accelerate astronomical discoveries

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Photo: Massive calculations done on the CANFAR platform using large datasets from the CADC helped guide the first close spacecraft encounter with Pluto.


Enhanced astronomy “virtual observatory” to benefit Canada’s larger scientific research community

December 14, 2016 – Victoria, BC ─ One of the world’s foremost astronomy research platforms is being enhanced through a new multi-year collaboration between the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Compute Canada. The collaboration will bring new “big science” data management and processing capabilities to a much larger research community.

The project is called C3TP for short in reference to the “three Cs Transition Project:” the National Research Council’s Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC), Compute Canada and the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR) platform (established on Compute Canada infrastructure).

“CANFAR sparked a significant shift towards a cloud ecosystem for data intensive astronomy, making virtual collaborations far more productive,” says Dr. Greg Fahlman, General Manager of NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics that operates the CADC. “C3TP will give Canadian astronomers access to the expanded computational power needed to process and analyze data from ever-more powerful telescopes.”

The advanced research computing needs of astronomers are evolving at the same time as Compute Canada’s infrastructure is being redesigned to better serve Canadian researchers and collaborators in all academic and industrial sectors.

“We are working with NRC to help move beyond storage by designing a new approach to cloud-based, ‘open data’ management,” says Dr. Dugan O’Neil, Chief Science Officer of Compute Canada. “This project will significantly enhance the advanced computing services and networks available to researchers across all disciplines, from data-intensive astronomy to medicine and the social sciences.”

The $2.5 million project is the first of its kind to leverage the large-scale research infrastructure and funding of both the National Research Council and Compute Canada to advance common science goals.

“Massive calculations done on the CANFAR platform using large datasets from the Astronomy Data Centre have helped guide the first close spacecraft encounter with Pluto and enabled the discovery of new dwarf planets and supermassive black holes that reveal secrets to the origins of the Universe,” says Dr. Fahlman. “We’re taking this discovery potential to a whole new level.”

The Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, also referred to as Canada’s “virtual observatory,” is one of the first in the world to make the transition from “data host” to integrated systems.

Additional Links
NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics
Canadian Astronomy Data Centre
Canadian Advanced Network For Astronomical Research (CANFAR)

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