Optical Astronomy data capture – background

The ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) operates a number facilities including Siding Spring Observatory. The RSAA has successfully installed a new instrument at Siding Spring Observatory, the wide field survey telescope (SkyMapper). To facilitate publication of SkyMapper data, appropriate sustainable infrastructure is required. Automated data publication workflows are also required to ensure the successful generation and publication of collection level metadata.

This infrastructure will ensure easier access to and greater use and reuse of internationally important astronomy data sets.

This project will also serve as the basis for the data publication component of a number of other internationally significant optical astronomy projects.

Data will be made visible via Research Data Australia (RDA) and available through the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA).

The RSAA has successfully installed an entirely new spectrograph for the ANU 2.3m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. This instrument, the Wide Field Spectrograph (WiFeS), is designed to obtain a large number of simultaneous spectra, with full sky coverage over the field of view accepted by the instrument. We will design a new data capture and publishing process which will then be the forerunner to three additional major optical Astronomy projects: Skymapper, WiggleZ and GAMA.

SkyMapper is a $10 million project led by the ANU to produce the first digital survey of the Southern Sky that will produce a data storage archive comprising 470TB of CCD images and large catalogues with billions of stars and galaxies. The WiggleZ project, strongly supported by UQ, is a major spectroscopic survey of 400,000 star-forming galaxies. The AAO supports both the WiggleZ and the GAMA surveys through the allocation of extensive observing time to the value of over $5 million, as well as the participation of 40% of the AAO astronomy research staff in the projects. UQ and AAO are now supporting the creation of the ANU data archive facility for a comprehensive Astronomy Data Archive for optical Astronomy. To clarify the relationship between these various components: WiFeS is the instrument, and Skymapper/WiggleZ/GAMA are particular surveys that will use WiFeS either solely or as part of a suite of instruments

The objective of this project will also fall into a wider national astronomy data archive project at the ANU, which will address the efficient collection, storage and dissemination of the many terabytes of astronomy data, which these projects will generate and consume. This will guarantee the necessary support for the continuous scientific exploitation of the stored data sets by national and international research teams in the future.

Research data collection descriptions will be published to the ANU Collections Registry and to RDA, and the data itself will be published to IVOA. The aim of the ANU collections registry is to provide a stable data portal to allow harvesting of collection description metadata in a range of formats by collaborating institutions both within Australia and overseas, as well as to allow ANU researchers to both access and cite datasets held at the ANU.

Context

The RSAA has successfully installed a new instrument, the Wide Field Spectrograph at Siding Spring Observatory. To publish this data appropriate sustainable infrastructure is required as well as the development of automated data publication workflows to ensure the successful generation and publication of collection level metadata.

This will ensure a greater use and reuse of internationally important astronomy data sets.

This project will also serve as the basis for the data publication component of a number of other internationally significant optical astronomy projects