ICRAR: theSkyNet Launched

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bystander
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ICRAR: theSkyNet Launched

Postby bystander » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:05 pm

theSkyNet Launched
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
Image
A community computing science initiative to help discover the hidden Universe was officially launched this morning at Curtin University by Western Australia’s Minister for Science and Innovation, the Hon. John Day.

TheSkyNet project, sponsored by the WA Department of Commerce and developed by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy (ICRAR), in conjunction with UK-based computing company, eMedia Track, will allow members of the public to contribute their spare computing power to the processing of radio astronomy data.

ICRAR Director, Professor Peter Quinn, said theSkyNet provided a community-based cloud computing resource to raise awareness of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and complement the primary data processing work of supercomputing facilities such as the Pawsey Centre.

“Radio astronomy is a data intensive activity and as we design, develop and switch on the next generation of radio telescopes, the supercomputing resources processing this deluge of data will be in increasingly high demand,” Professor Quinn said.

“TheSkyNet aims to complement the work already being done by creating a citizen science computing resource that radio astronomers can tap into and process data in ways and for purposes that otherwise might not be possible.”

Curtin University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graeme Wright, said theSkyNet would generate real outcomes for scientific research by encouraging the online community to participate in the processing of radio astronomy data.

“Radio astronomy is a clear focal point in Curtin’s commitment to research in ICT and emerging technologies and it’s great to see people from across the University, in collaboration with our partners at the Department of Commerce, The University of Western Australia and ICRAR, bringing this project to life,” Professor Wright said.

ICRAR Outreach Manager, Pete Wheeler, said joining theSkyNet allowed participants to play a major part in the discovery of the Universe.

“By creating a distributed network containing thousands of computers, we can simulate a single powerful machine capable of doing real scientific research,” Mr Wheeler said.

“The key to theSkyNet is having lots of computers connected, with each contributing only a little, but the sum of those computers achieving a lot.”

For further information and to sign up, please visit theSkyNet website:
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Re: ICRAR: theSkyNet Launched

Postby Chris Peterson » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:28 pm

Hmmm... that name has some serious baggage attached to it.
Chris

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Re: ICRAR: theSkyNet Launched

Postby bystander » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:02 am

Chris Peterson wrote:Hmmm... that name has some serious baggage attached to it.

So this is how it began ? :shock:

theSkyNet is Awake (Not Self-Aware, Yet)
Discovery News | Nicole Gugliucci | 2011 Sept 15
Everybody panic! No, don't panic. This version of "SkyNet" isn't slated to be given artificial intelligence anytime soon. Instead, it'll be taking over some of the grunt work of processing the radio astronomy data deluge to come.

With the advent of bigger and better interferometers, or sets of many telescopes working in tandem, astronomers have a lot more data to explore and calibrate in order to advance the state of the science.

Beautifully engineered and crafted telescopes like the newly minted Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) and the soon-to-be-online Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) are poised to produce stunning datasets that will allow us to probe the universe more deeply and fully and with better fidelity.

The monster interferometer to come, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), is expected to produce 10 GB per second of processed data. My 500 GB storage device would be filled up in less than a minute!

When I first got into this business only a few years ago, my Very Long Baseline Array data came on magnetic tape. In 2004. Seriously! My Green Bank Telescope data from several days of observations came home on a USB thumb drive. Today, our not-even-full-array PAPER data can bring down my desktop, and even slow to a crawl a more powerful machine at the observatory.

Around my office at the University of Virginia, astronomers are scrambling to build monster desktops or small computer clusters to handle the flow of EVLA data coming from the first observations. A bottleneck has presented itself, and creative solutions are needed in order to deal with it.

Many hold hope that computers themselves will evolve as the data flow grows and that supercomputers at the observatories will be able to handle the initial data collection and processing. However, that doesn't always help the astronomer sitting at his or her desktop at University X.

So, the folks at Western Australia Department of Commerce, the International Center for Radio Astronomy, and a UK-based computing company, eMedia Track, have created a way for citizen scientists to help. In a fashion similar to the widely popular SETI@Home project, theSkyNet will allow idle home computers to contribute to the massive data-crunching process that will be needed to explore the radio universe in great detail.

Though the SKA is still at least a decade away, you can sign up now to be a part of theSkyNet now. As I mentioned, the new generation of radio telescopes coming online today already need your help. theSkyNet is being used on already processed data from a large hydrogen survey from the Parkes Telescope in order to test its astronomical source finding skills.

Next up, several surveys will be taken with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP. (Do check out the adorable names of some of their upcoming surveys.)

I, for one, welcome our overlord radio astronomy compu-... No, I mean, it won't become self-aware and take over the world. Probably.
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ICRAR: TheSkyNet - T2 is born

Postby bystander » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:00 pm

TheSkyNet - T2 is born
Internatonal Centre for Radio Astronomy Research | 2013 Sep 13

Celebrating two years of successful citizen astronomy research

theSkyNet-M100-POGS[1].png

TheSkyNet is celebrating its two year anniversary today with the official launch of a new research project, as well as a range of improvements and new features to make contributing to astronomical research at home more enjoyable, and even easier.

Launched on September 13th 2011, theSkyNet is a community computing project dedicated to astronomy, initiated by the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia.

By using the idle processing power of thousands of computers connected to the Internet, theSkyNet simulates a powerful single machine and processes data collected by telescopes around the world.

Today theSkyNet launches T2 – Transform 2 – a new version of its website that brings new citizen science and membership features. At theskynet.org members can view the credits they’ve earned by processing data, trophies they’ve been awarded as part of their contribution, the actual galaxies they’ve processed data from and can join alliances to process together.

As part of T2, theSkyNet is also officially launching a new scientific project – theSkyNet POGS, which started testing almost a year ago. TheSkyNet Pan-STARRS1 Optical Galaxy Survey, or theSkyNet POGS, processes data gathered by various telescopes around the globe to measure the properties of thousands of galaxies, such as stellar mass and star formation rate.

TheSkyNet POGS is the first-ever Australian project to be available to the public on the popular distributed computing software BOINC.

“Today marks the official launch of theSkyNet POGS, and its integration into theSkyNet’s main website, where users can now view their stats, as well as the stunning galaxy images their computer has helped process,” said theSkyNet Project Scientist Kevin Vinsen.

Thanks to some 3500 users, and with 50 more joining every day, theSkyNet POGS has already processed an impressive 7000 galaxies since it started testing; and as the number of computers in the project grows with its official integration into the website, the team behind it aims to process over 100,000 galaxies.

“Processing this amount of data with a research computer would normally take 10 years, but the way theSkyNet POGS is going we’ll be done in less than three,” said Vinsen.

T2 also sees a raft of new features on theSkyNet’s completely revised website. TheSkyNet members earn credits as they process data, either individually or as part of alliance. As members earn credits and climb up the rankings, they accumulate unique trophies and rewards as an incentive to participate.

As part of its second anniversary celebrations, TheSkyNet has developed a whole new range of trophies for its members, as well as adding the images of the galaxies they have processed to the website, which users can download as part of individual galaxy reports showing their contribution.

“We are introducing one of the most extensive systems of user statistics in the distributed computing world,” said Alex Beckley, theSkyNet web developer. “Users will be able to see how much they are really contributing to science, and will be able to map the actual galaxies they have worked on in the sky, something that’s exclusive to theSkyNet.”

Since its launch two years ago, theSkyNet has increased to over 11,000 members processing data for astronomers, donating the equivalent of a mid level supercomputer to science. TheSkyNet now crunches at between 20 and 35 TFLOPS.

In its first two years, theSkyNet focussed on its original project – theSkyNet SourceFinder - which processes radio astronomy data to find and map new sources of radio waves for astronomers to study. In that time, theSkyNet SourceFinder has optimised the way systems automatically search for radio sources in astronomy data. Because of theSkyNet SourceFinder’s work, future data from telescopes like CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) will only need a tenth as much processing to find all the radio sources.

TheSkyNet SourceFinder continues to process simulated radio astronomy data to help refine this process even further, hoping to cut processing time for the next generation of radio telescopes down even more.

“Our members are an amazing group, the combined computing power they donate would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if purchased from a supercomputer. We’re incredibly grateful for their efforts,” said Vinsen.

“In recent years, distributed computing has emerged as a powerful way for the public to help researchers process the vast amounts of data collected by their experiments.”

“In astronomy, as ever bigger arrays of telescopes conduct vast surveys of the sky, huge amounts of data are collected that impose new challenges for the science community. Solving this Big Data problem is one of the core areas of study at ICRAR. We’re helping develop the infrastructure needed to transport, store and process the data from next generation telescopes such as the Murchison Widefield Array, CSIRO’s ASKAP, and the future SKA,” said Vinsen.

TheSkyNet is already working on making other research projects available to its members, such as processing actual data from ASKAP and solar data from the recently launched Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) SKA precursor.
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Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor


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