Brazilian scientists to partake in International Astronomy project

With investments of R$ 1 billion, the supertelescope is a challenge for IT

An agreement celebrated between the e-Astronomy Interinstitutional Laboratory (LIneA), the Astrophysics National Laboratory (LNA), RNP and the Academic Network at São Paulo (Ansp) shall allow the participation of Brazilian researchers in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project. The Memorandum of Understanding signed in September by the institutions provides investments in optical fiber connections, expanding the connection between South America and North America. In addition, a group of 50 Brazilian researchers shall partake in the project, deemed as revolutionary for Astronomy.

The LSST is a telescope being built in Cerro Pachón, in Chile, expected to go into operation in 2022. Totaling R$ 1 billion in investments, the LSST will be able to map almost half of the sky in six filters for a period of ten years. The telescope, with 8.4 meters in diameter, covers a field of almost 10 square degrees, and may map the entire region of the sky to which it has access in only certain nights. Its camera is comprised by a CCDs mosaic with 3.2 billion pixels, and each exposure covers an area corresponding to 40 times the size of the full Moon. Every night, 15 terabytes (TB) of data will be accrued, which must be transmitted to different centers for reduction and analysis, including in Brazil. The system shall supply the astronomers with a dynamic vision of the universe, where variations in position or flow of celestial objects shall be registered every few nights.

The forecast is for LSST to generate 10 million alerts of these variations every night. They shall be classified, and the most interesting cases shall be observed in other telescopes for a more detailed analysis. By the end of ten years, the survey shall have information on 37 billion stars and galaxies, exploring a volume of space without precedents, generating 100 petabytes (PB) of products.

With the data from LSST, the scientists will explore the solar system, study our galaxy’s structure and the formation and evolution of structures of the Universe, as well as determine the proprieties of dark matter and energy that permeate the Universe, the latter being responsible for its accelerated expansion.

This project presents great challenges in the area of Information Technology to manage the transference, the processing, the storage, the analysis and the scientific operation of the large amount of data that shall be generated uninterruptedly. It is a big data matter that begins to be faced in a systematic manner by the project, searching for new solutions for the network communication areas, high-performance processing and database drawing, in which the Brazilian researcher team shall also participate.

The connectivity infrastructure via optical fiber made available by RNP and ANSP will allow the data transference between Chile and the USA through Brazil, reaching rates of 100 gigabytes per second (Gbps). Ansp shall be responsible for the operation of the connection between Santos (SP) and Boca Raton (Florida, EUA). RNP will provide the connection between Santiago (Chile) and São Paulo (SP). This collaboration between Ansp and RNP was recognized by the LSST Administration Council as a counterpart for the participation of ten senior researchers and other four juniors associated to each one of them, totaling 50 researchers with limitless access to the data from the survey. By the terms of the agreement, LIneA and LNA are responsible for organizing the selection process of this contingent of Brazilian researchers, entitled the LSST Brazilian Participation Group (BPG -LSST).