A Cyberinfrastructure platform to meet the needs of data intensive radio astronomy on route to the SKA

Cyber SKA

Cyber SKA

Collaborators on the CANARIE Cyber SKA Project

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Server-side Data Visualization

Last updated 3871 days ago by Arne Grimstrup

A Web-based Tool for Remote Visualization of Large Multi-dimensional Radio Astronomy Data Sets

The visualization tool provides users the ability to interactively explore large multi-dimensional radio astronomy data sets directly in the browser, without the need to download or install any additional software. It is seamlessly integrated into the CyberSKA Web Portal, where users can easily visualize any data integrated with the portal’s distributed data management system at the click of a button. Some of the currently supported features include interactive pan & zoom, display of cursor position and data values under the cursor, histogram and colormap adjustments, movie player along 3rd axis and dynamically updating profiles along three different axes. The tool is capable of reading most multi-dimensional FITS images, and support for additional formats are planned for the near future. The screenshots below highlight some of the mentioned features:

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When designing the tool, an important goal was to replicate as many features and interactivity users are accustomed to in more traditional desktop applications, such as Kvis or DS9. In order to achieve this goal, we had to deal with a number of challenges, such as restricted programing environment supplied by browsers and even more importantly the limited network speeds available to average users. Many of these challenges were resolved once we partnered with Calgary Scientific and utilized their PureWeb technology. PureWeb facilitates both re-purposing of legacy server based applications to be used on the Internet, as well as rapid and advanced development of new and fully web-enabled rich GUI applications that manipulate and visualize large remote data sets.

PureWeb allowed us to implement a server-based visualization tool, where most of the data and CPU intensive operations are performed on the server, and only the results are transferred to the clients for display. Through the use of PureWeb the visualization application also allows advanced collaboration features, where multiple users at geographically different locations can simultaneously view and control the same visualization session. Thanks to PureWeb the application can be used on a wide range of platforms, i.e. most major desktop browsers and many iOS and Android mobile devices.

Interactive Demo

You can launch an interactive visualization demo session by clicking the button below.


The sample dataset is a 3D cube from the Canadian Galactic Plane Surveya project to combine radio, millimetre and infrared surveys of the Galactic Plane to provide arc-minute scale images of all major components of the interstellar medium over a large portion of the Galactic disk.