A community computing science initiative to help discover the hidden Universe was officially launched yesterday at Curtin University by Western Australia's Minister for Science and Innovation, the Hon. John Day.
TheSkyNet project, sponsored by the WA Department of Commerce and developed by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy (ICRAR), in conjunction with UK-based computing company, eMedia Track, will allow members of the public to contribute their spare computing power to the processing of radio astronomy data.
ICRAR Director, Professor Peter Quinn, said theSkyNet provided a community-based cloud computing resource to raise awareness of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and complement the primary data processing work of supercomputing facilities such as the Pawsey Centre.
"Radio astronomy is a data intensive activity and as we design, develop and switch on the next generation of radio telescopes, the supercomputing resources processing this deluge of data will be in increasingly high demand," Professor Quinn said.
"TheSkyNet aims to complement the work already being done by creating a citizen science computing resource that radio astronomers can tap into and process data in ways and for purposes that otherwise might not be possible."
Curtin University's Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graeme Wright, said theSkyNet would generate real outcomes for scientific research by encouraging the online community to participate in the processing of radio astronomy data.
"Radio astronomy is a clear focal point in Curtin's commitment to research in ICT and emerging technologies and it's great to see people from across the University, in collaboration with our partners at the Department of Commerce, The University of Western Australia and ICRAR, bringing this project to life," Professor Wright said.
ICRAR Outreach Manager, Pete Wheeler, said joining theSkyNet allowed participants to play a major part in the discovery of the Universe.
"By creating a distributed network containing thousands of computers, we can simulate a single powerful machine capable of doing real scientific research," Mr Wheeler said.
"The key to theSkyNet is having lots of computers connected, with each contributing only a little, but the sum of those computers achieving a lot."
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More information: www.theskynet.org/