NYU Abu Dhabi to host scientific data from space observatories - Saudi Gazette

NYU Abu Dhabi to host scientific data from space observatories

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ABU DHABI — New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is hosting crucial scientific data collected by space observatories. The National Data Center (NDC) at NYUAD will be the first location in the UAE that will acquire, archive, and process selected scientific data sets from space missions. The NDC will host observations from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Kepler space mission that are essential to performing research in solar and stellar physics. These data have now been made publicly available by NASA as a matter of its policy, but infrastructure in the UAE is needed to analyze the data locally.

In addition, the National Data Center will build relevant capacity for facilitating pre-launch studies associated with the Emirati Mars Mission (launch 2020), Solar Orbiter (launch 2019), and TESS (launch 2018). An important, long-term goal is to prepare for the PLATO mission, which was adopted by the European Space Agency in June 2017 and will be launched in 2026.

PLATO will have 26 telescopes on board to search large areas of the sky for habitable exoplanets – Earth-like planets that exist beyond our solar system. The goal is to scout for exoplanets that orbit around sun-like stars at a safe distance enabling water to exist on the surface of these planets; an indication that they could possibly host life.

The PLATO observations will be made available by the European Space Agency to various data centers on Earth, including now in the UAE, to aid scientists studying the possibility there’s another planet out there like ours.

Shravan Hanasoge, co-principal investigator at the NYUAD Center for Space Science, said “space science cannot proceed forward without high-quality measurements. The data taken by billion-dollar space-based observatories can be used to make important scientific contributions. We hope that the ease of access to this data in the UAE will significantly boost space science research in the region.”

Space data is usually publicly available online but requires heavy infrastructure and computing power to be accessed and analyzed remotely. A local repository at NYUAD will make it easier to access datasets that can sometimes be several terabytes in size. The Center for Space Science also plans to hold periodic workshops for users interested in learning how to access and use the database. The presence of local experts will make it possible to handle special download requests such as unusual combinations or exhaustive copies.

Work on the National Data Center will begin in 2018 and researchers at NYUAD are looking to collaborate with other institutions in the UAE to facilitate widespread user access to the database. — SG


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