Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ASTERICS Report Summary

Project ID: 653477
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ASTERICS (Astronomy ESFRI and Research Infrastructure Cluster)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

European astronomy is involved in the construction of four new large telescopes (see Figure 1): the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), observing at radio wavelengths, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), observing extremely high energy gamma rays, the cubic KiloMeter (km3) Neutrino Telescope (KM3NeT), observing neutrinos from the universe, and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), observing at optical wavelengths. These new facilities are highly valued Research Infrastructures endorsed by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), and have a high potential for discovery and exploring the boundaries of physics and astronomy. Individually, the science case for each of the ESFRI facilities is outstanding, and they represent the main (ground-based) priorities of the European astronomy and astroparticle physics communities. Close interactions between these communities have been limited in the past; the next generation of telescopes will operate in such different regimes that a more communal approach will be required.

The ASTERICS project (Astronomy ESFRI and Research Infrastructure Cluster) aims to establish a single collaborative cluster of next generation ESFRI telescope facilities and other relevant research infrastructure initiatives in the area of astronomy, astrophysics and astroparticle physics. It is the first time that researchers in astronomy, astrophysics and astroparticle physics work together on such a large scale.

As these new facilities will generate vast amounts of data, the areas that will receive most attention in the ASTERICS project are related to the many aspects of data handling (generation, transport, preservation, retrieval and analysis), as well as the interoperability between facilities, which is important for linked analysis, scheduling for simultaneous observations, and fast response. Together, these astronomy-related ESFRI projects and their pathfinders will significantly extend our observational capabilities across the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as open new windows on the universe through the detection of neutrinos, high-energy particle showers and gravitational waves. Multi-messenger astronomy provides an unprecedented chance to open unexplored regions of a combined observational parameter space.

Educating, training and interacting with ESFRI facility staff, industry and the wider user community in a spirit of “open innovation” are essential objectives of the project, in order to define requirements, and ensure wide and rapid up-take of ASTERICS’ results and deliverables. Another key goal is to engage with society at large by developing popular citizen science applications.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The ASTERICS project is set up around four astronomy ESFRI facilities (SKA, CTA, KM3NeT and E-ELT). The ASTERICS Consortium consists of 23 partners, universities and research institutes with groups of researchers and developers that are linked to one or more of these ESFRI facilities. One major task at the beginning of the project was to bring together people from these four distinct research areas, as they had not worked together on such a large scale before. These groups have evolved very different cultures and ways of collaborating. As the Virtual Observatory (VO) had already a well-defined core around several observatories and data sets, they were the first to welcome the new groups to their meetings. This was good for starting the information flow and new collaborations.

The integration within the overall project of the various groups is progressing. Participants are now, in parallel to the developments for their own facility, more and more thinking about the possible implementation of their work in other facilities. This is something one cannot easily enforce and is a big achievement so early into the project.

We have made substantial progress towards enabling interoperability and software re-use for the data generation, integration and analysis of the ASTERICS ESFRI and pathfinder facilities. The work has started the creation of an open innovation environment for establishing open standards and software libraries for multi-wavelength/multi-messenger data. ASTERICS is also developing common solutions for streaming data processing and extremely large databases, as well as studying advanced analysis algorithms and software frameworks for data processing and quality control.

ASTERICS has set up a repository of existing and new libraries. The repository is publicly available and it provides, so far, thirteen software libraries for statistically robust analysis of Petabyte-scale datasets in astronomy.

A report on scheduling algorithms for large infrastructures was prepared. This takes into account cross-facility scheduling from subarrays to a global infrastructure. Scheduling algorithms dealing with multiple constraints were studied for the CTA, though care is being taken to make sure the solution will not be only suitable for CTA. ASTERICS has established new collaborations through the workshops. This has concrete results such as the publication of ANTARES data in the VO and the usage of the VO tool Aladin Lite (CDS) for gravitational wave follow-up in the so-called GWSky tool. The code is stored in the official LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave astronomy repository to support the effort of electromagnetic follow-up of gravitational wave detections. Building blocks from the Virtual Observatory framework of standards and tools, for instance, the IVOA Provenance concepts, have been adopted in the CTA pipeline.

During the first Citizen Science workshop a number of experiments were identified, and the development into citizen science tools has started, by using existing platforms such as Zooniverse, or creating new ones.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The Virtual Observatory is an ongoing development organised in a cyclic way, where the state of the art is demonstrated in a series of Forums and schools to developers, data providers and users. The feedback and new requirements gathered during these meetings inspires new development. ASTERICS is actively working towards the inclusion of the data produced by the ESFRI facilities and their pathfinders into the Virtual Observatory. This will open up these data products, first of all to the experts in the field, then to the astronomers working in adjacent fields for multi-messenger astronomy, and finally to the general public through their inclusion in citizen science projects.

An innovative and efficient algorithm of lossless compression for digitalised signals (which is usually the kind of data produced by ESFRI experiments) was produced. This achieves reasonable compression ratios with comparatively small compression duration.

The development of the technology for enabling long-haul and many-element time and frequency distribution over fibre connections, for relaying alerts, and for streaming data goes far beyond the recent state of the art. ASTERICS has demonstrated a new and very precise dispersion delay measurement method. Simultaneous transmission of an optical supervisory channel (OSC) signal and two additional wavelength channels for time and frequency transfer, was successfully demonstrated at SURFnet. This technique will be appealing to the commercial data transport providers. A number of high-bandwidth transfer tests were done between New Zealand and the Netherlands, using various commercial and non-commercial applications. A working e-transfer prototype was delivered.

Related information

Record Number: 198189 / Last updated on: 2017-05-17