In February 2013, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (“CAS)” and the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (“Industry”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on areas of common interest within astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. The first meeting of the joint CAS/Industry working group took place in Nanjing, China, on 11th November 2013. At this meeting, it was resolved to establish a joint China-Australia research centre in astronomy, the Australian-ChinA Consortium for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR). The centre was envisaged as a “virtual” centre, to serve as an umbrella and coordination point for bilateral astronomical collaborations. ACAMAR was officially launched in Beijing on Saturday 12th September 2015.
An inaugural Australia-China workshop on Astrophysics was organized by ACAMAR and held in Perth between 5 and 7 April 2016. The workshop discussed astronomical research programs in both Australia and China and also addressed the challenges both communities would face in dealing with the “big data” problem surrounding the SKA and future facilities. Both the Chinese and Australian communities expressed a strong desire to collaborate in developing data intensive astronomy capabilities and facilities in the Asia-Pacific region. This Australia-China discussion was further progressed at the 2016 SKA Workshop on the SDP collaboration and HPC challenges hosted by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) in Shanghai between 11 and 13 May 2016. During this meeting, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and the SHAO signed a MoU to conduct collaborative research covering:
- Exchange of academic personnel for collaborative visits on data intensive astronomy.
- Workshops and conferences on SKA and data intensive astronomy.
- Co-supervision of PhD students on SKA Science Data Processor-related research projects.
- Planning of the setup and operations of SKA regional support centres in the Asia-Pacific region.
Following from these developments facilitated by ACAMAR and the international SKA collaboration, ICRAR and SHAO have initiated the ERIDANUS Project (Exascale Research Infrastructure for Data in Asian-Pacific astroNomy Using the SKA). This effort will form part of the collective work in the Asian-Pacific Region to establish SKA Regional Centres, with coordination through the SKAO Regional Centre Coordination Group (SRCCG) and the Australian and New Zealand SKA Coordination Committee’s (ANZSCC) SKA Regional Centre Working Group (ASRCWG).
The ERIDANUS Project is a three year design study commencing in 2017, aimed at deploying prototype data intensive research infrastructure and middleware, between and within Australia and China, capable of addressing SKA-class data and processing challenges. The Project will respond to challenges identified by the SRCCG and will work in a coordinated and collaborative manner with the European Aeneas (Advanced European Network for E-infrastructures for Astronomy with the SKA) Project.
The ERIDANUS Project will engage with:
- The astronomical communities within Australia and China with guidance from the ACAMAR research centre
- The providers of networking and computing research infrastructure (e.g. research network providers, supercomputer centres, commercial cloud providers)
- National and international committees (e.g. SRCCG, ASRCWG) coordinating efforts on SKA regional centre developments
- SKA precursor/pathfinder projects – 21CMA, FAST, MWA, ASKAP, to enable large scale prototyping and the support of specific science programs
The Project will identify the opportunities within Australia and China to take advantage of existing and planned e-infrastructure and will target specific astronomical research efforts in the region to deploy and benchmark prototype systems and middleware.
The work program of the ERIDANUS Project will consist of activities in:
- Data flow architectures from observatories to processing centres to archival research facilities
- Execution frameworks for radio astronomy work flows on highly parallel and hybrid computing environments
- Strategies and systems to monitor and control the cost of power and sustained performance per watt
- Networking optimisation, stress testing and planning
- Cloud computing options
- Support of a specific Australia/China radio astronomy project by addressing its data processing and storage needs within the next three years
- Work with specific industrial and commercial partners within the region to design and deploy prototype systems
- Coordination with the SRCCG on the design and implementation of SKA data and processing challenges
- Coordination in particular with CSIRO(ASKAP), the MWA project and in future also the FAST project on the potential usage of data from these pathfinders and precursors to implement one or more fully functional SKA data management and processing pathfinders.
Following the design study phase of ERIDANUS, the Project partners may seek to expand the effort to fund, deploy and support the essential exascale data intensive research infrastructure underpinning SKA Regional Centre activities in the Asian-Pacific region.
Partnership and Funding
This paper is an open invitation to institutions, research groups and companies in Australia and China to enter into discussions with ICRAR and SHAO aimed at their participation in the ERIDANUS effort in the coming three years. At this time, the resources for the work program are limited to those available within ICRAR and SHAO. Both organizations will seek partners and support though the ACAMAR centre and will actively engage Government agencies to identify future funding opportunities. ICRAR has already engaged in active discussions with the ASKAP software development group within CSIRO/CASS and with several industrial partners (e.g. AMAZON and Nyriad). SHAO is currently in discussion with NAOC, PMO, XAO, the Inspur group, NVIDIA, Intel, CSTNET and other universities, institutes, and companies. Both ICRAR and SHAO look forward to the upcoming ACAMAR meeting in Suzhou (December 5 to 7) to further discuss collaborative opportunities.
To accelerate the development of Australia/China collaboration on the SKA data and processing challenges, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Australia-China Science and Research Fund, has funded an Australia-China SKA Big Data Workshop. The first workshop was held in China in April 2017.
Both ICRAR and SHAO look forward to the growth of the ERIDANUS Project partnership and to a successful effort to design and deploy systems that will be precursors of the infrastructure needed to do science with the SKA in the Asian-Pacific region.