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

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Last updated 568 days ago by David Aikema
Artists impression of the core of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Image courtesy of SPDO / Swinburne Astronomy Productions
Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA), New Mexico. Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI.
Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico. Image courtesy of the NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF.


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to construct a next generation international radio telescope. The SKA will consist of an array of radio antennas to detect electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths from meters to centimetres, with a total collecting area of order a million square meters (one square kilometre), making it 50 times more sensitive and 10,000 times faster for imaging the sky than our most powerful existing radio telescope arrays.

The imaging power of the SKA will create massive data sets that contain within them information about the origin, structure and evolution of our Universe. Processing and mining these data sets will require coordinated effort among globally distributed research institutions. Radio astronomy observing programs that foreshadow the scale and power of the SKA are currently under way with the world's most powerful instruments. The Arecibo L-band Feed array system has enable large-scale imaging and pulsar surveys with the world's largest radio astronomy collecting area, and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) including the new Canadian-built WIDAR correlator system has greatly increased the imaging power of the world's most powerful radio array. These new capacities create opportunities for new science that is underpinned by massive data flows and volumes.

CyberSKA is a project aimed at exploring and implementing the cyberinfrastructure that will be required to address the evolving data intensive science needs of future radio telescopes such as the Square Kilometre Array. Towards this end the project is currently addressing the requirements of existing data intensive radio astronomy projects such as GALFACTS and PALFA with Arecibo, and the EVLA and GMRT wide-band, ultra-deep polarization fields.

The portal is built on top of an open source social networking platform called Elgg. Elgg provides many Facebook-like social networking features such as friends/contacts, groups, messaging, activity feeds, blogs, bookmarking, tags, wikis, media/document sharing, and so forth. Tools for accessing, visualizing and processing data are being integrated with the portal.

Canadian funding of the project is provided by CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network as part of their Network Enabled Platforms (NEP) program. Several North American institutions are partners on the project including the University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia Okanagan, McGill University, Cornell University, National Research Council Canada, IBM Canada, Calgary Scientific, Cybera and CANARIE.

To join the project please register as a user.

For assistance with problems encountered when using the platform, contact

The history of the CyberSKA portal's development can be tracked on the CyberSKA CANARIE NEP History page, which addresses the first two years of the project.

Release notes