Basser Seminar Series

Computing for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

Speaker: Dr Tim Cornwell
CSIRO / Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF)

Time: Friday 8 May 2009, 4:00-5:00pm
Refreshments will be available from 3:30pm

Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, Lecture Theatre (Room 123), Level 1

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A proposal to build a "Square Kilometre Array" is currently being developed by an international consortium of radio astronomy groups and observatories, to come online in 2020. Compared to existing radio telescopes, the SKA will offer much increased sensitivity and field of view. The computing load for SKA is expected to be about 1 Exaflop/s.

Australia's contribution to the development of the proposal is to build a 1% pathfinder - the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

ASKAP is funded now, with a cost of AU $100, and is scheduled to start scientific observations in 2012. The computing load for ASKAP is much less than that for SKA - only 100Tflop/s. However, there are many new challenges in the computing for ASKAP - the provision of totally automated processing to deal with the high data rate (many TB/hour), the parallel and distributed processing needed to acheive 100TFlop/s, algorithms for dealing with novel aspects of the telescope such as the phased array feeds used to achieve large field of view. I will first give a general description of the ASKAP and SKA projects, and then for the remainder of the talk, I will focus on the technical details of our computing plans.

Speaker's biography

Tim Cornwell has a PhD (1980) from the University of Manchester in England where he worked on image processing algorithms for radio synthesis telescopes. His first significant contribution was the development of the self-calibration algorithm widely used in radio astronomy. In 1980, he moved to Socorro, New Mexico to work on the newly completed Very Large Array telescope run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Over the 25 years at the NRAO, he made many contributions to radio astronomical techniques, including the key algorithms needed for wide fields of view. He also contributed in the areas of telescope design (for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array), telescope commissioning (the Very Long Baseline Array), observatory management, and software development. In 2004, he joined the Square Kilometre Array International Engineering Working Group, primarily to contribute towards computing and algorithms. In 2005, he moved to Australia to take the lead role in computing for the Australia SKA Pathfinder. Since then he has been heavily involved in all aspects of the development of ASKAP computing, and most particularly in the provision of high performance computing for the telescope.