Cambridge University astronomers mine skies with grid and intelligent database

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Cambridge University astronomers mine skies with grid and intelligent database

Arif Mohamed

An astronomy organisation linked to Cambridge University has deployed one of the industry’s most powerful analytical databases, alongside utility or grid computing, to accelerate the processing and classification of extremely large volumes of research data.

The Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU), part of Cambridge University's Institute of Astronomy, has deployed Kognitio’s WX2 analytical database which has business intelligence incorporated into it, as well as utility computing services from HP.

By the end of 2007 CASU will be collecting up to 500Gbyte of telescope imaging data every night.

These images are then grouped into catalogues that must be uploaded, cross-referenced and heavily indexed to enable research astronomers across the world to ask useful and complex data mining queries.

“It is analysis of this type of data that has led to some of the most significant astronomical discoveries but since the speed of research is closely tied to the speed the data can be catalogued and mined we were not proceeding at a satisfactory pace.

"Gathering, classifying and cross-referencing very large quantities of data is a highly demanding process and it requires a powerful yet flexible technology,” said Jim Lewis, senior research associate at CASU.

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