BELLA project will benefit the exchange of data of the CTA telescope in Chile

- 28/04/2021

Connectivity can be a major obstacle to global projects that involve collaborative research between scientists located in different parts of the world. With that in mind, RNP, which is connected to other international academic networks, and RedCLARA, which develops and operates a regional network for Latin America, are part of project BELLA (Building European Link with Latin America), which is dedicated to the construction of a direct connection between Latin America and Europe.

Thanks to this initiative, it will be possible to meet the infrastructure demands and the data transmission needs of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the greatest and most precise terrestrial observatory in the world for high-energy gamma-ray astronomy.

With over 100 telescopes located in two observatories in the northern and southern hemispheres - at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, on the La Palma island (Canary Islands, Spain) and near the Paranal Observatory (Chile) - and data management stored in other locations in Europe, the CTA has huge data transfer requirements.

In Chile, the CTA base is located less than 10 km to the southeast of the center of the Paranal do Observatório Sulino da Europa Observatory (ESO) in the Atacama Desert which is considered one of the driest and most remote areas on the planet. Thus, the use of advanced networks in Latin America and Europe plays a fundamental role in facilitating the sharing of data and meeting CTA's transfer requirements. 

The CTA is the first observatory of its kind in the world and will be accessible to the global communities of astronomy and particle physics, addressing some of the greatest mysteries of astrophysics, detecting gamma rays with unprecedented sensitivity, and expanding the catalog of cosmic sources tenfold.

The connectivity provided to connect CTA South is being constructed by the BELLA Program, financed jointly by the European Union and academic networks in South America. It consists of a terrestrial connection, crossing Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, to reach Fortaleza, in Ceará, with most of it operated by the Clara Network. From Fortaleza, the traffic will use the Ellalink underwater cable, which connects Fortaleza to Sines, Portugal. This way, data can reach the European academic network GÉANT, through Lisbon and Madrid, from where it will continue to Germany. This end-to-end chain will exceed the CTA data transfer needs between the two continents.

In Germany, data from both CTA observatories will be received and duly managed in the Science Data Management Center (SDMC) in Berlin-Zeuthen, connected to the German national network for research and education, DFN. Finally, the data will be made available to researchers, wherever they are, through advanced networks worldwide.

"Solving the challenges of connectivity and use of more sensitive instruments is of the utmost importance to provide the global community of researchers with relevant information, as is the case of the CTA. Thanks to the great capacity and connectivity provided by academic networks, a greater volume of data collected by more precise telescopes will arrive for analysis by researchers on astronomy and physics worldwide. Among other results, we hope to expand the catalog of cosmic ray sources at tenfold, a great advance for scholars," says Michael Stanton, a network scientist at RNP.

About project BELLA

Bella meets the long-term interconnectivity needs of European and Latin American research and education communities, achieved through two projects: BELLA-S, which guarantees spectrum rights in the underwater cable EllaLink and ensures "future-proof" connectivity requirements; and BELLA-T, which provides the completion of fiber connectivity to Latin American advanced networks, bringing the much-needed high-speed connectivity and equal access for research and education communities across the continent.

Source: Project BELLA