Brazilian Astronomers Assured of Access to The Telescope That Will Map Half The Sky

Hello reader!

Below is an article published the day (27/01) in the website of the "Agency FAPESP", noting that Brazilian Astronomers assured of access to the telescope that will Map Half The Sky.

Duda Falcão


Brazilian Astronomers Assured of Access to
The Telescope That Will Map Half The Sky

By Elton Alisson
Agência FAPESP
January 27, 2016

Agreement signed by FAPESP's Rede ANSP will enable Brazil's
astronomy community to access data from the Large Synoptic
Survey Telescope (LSST), under construction in Chile.

Brazilian astronomers will have access to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which is under construction atop the Cerro Pachón ridge in northern Chile and is scheduled to see first light in 2022. The LSST will produce a multi-color map and photometric object catalogue of half the sky in a ten-year survey.

Brazil is joining the project thanks to an agreement that links Rede ANSP (Academic Network at São Paulo), which is supported by FAPESP, the National Higher Education & Research Network (RNP), Brazil’s academic internet, the e-Astronomy Inter-Institutional Laboratory (LIneA), and the National Astrophysics Laboratory (LNA), with the US consortium that is financing the project.

A memorandum of understanding signed by the institutions will enable astronomers from the US and other countries to access the data obtained by the telescope via a 20,000 km undersea fiber-optic network operated by ANSP and RNP, running between São Paulo (Brazil), Santiago (Chile) and Miami (USA).

This contribution from ANSP and RNP has been acknowledged by the LSST Board as equivalent to participation, and the board has granted unrestricted access to the data from the telescope by ten senior and four junior researchers associated with each of them, for a total of 50 researchers.

Under the terms of the agreement, LNA and LIneA will be responsible for organizing the process of selecting this group of Brazilian researchers, to be known as the Brazilian Participation Group (BPG-LSST).

“It’s important for Brazil’s participation in the LSST to be national. For this reason, LNA, which signed the MoU together with LIneA, ANSP and RNP, has a fundamental role to play in interfacing the LSST with the Brazilian astronomy community, selecting the researchers and projects that will use the data from the telescope,” said Marcos Perez Diaz, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics & Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP) and President of the Brazilian Astronomical Society.

Diaz told Agência FAPESP that the LSST will operate differently from other astronomical observatories that are currently in service around the world, where participating astronomers have a set amount of time to observe a region of the sky specified in their research projects.

In the case of the LSST, the telescope will continuously monitor its planned area of observation and participating researchers will select the data that interest them.

The LSST’s frequent observations will enable scientists to obtain repeated images of each fraction of the visible sky every few nights, in various bands or segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. It will continue to operate in this manner for ten years, with the aim of obtaining astronomical catalogues that will combine angular, spectral and temporal information in great detail.

The facility has an overall budget cap of US$473 million. The 8.4 m telescope will use a special three-mirror design to create an exceptionally wide field of view – almost 10 square degrees – so that it will be able to survey the entire sky in only three nights.

Images will be captured by a camera with 3.2 billion pixels of solid-state detectors, the largest digital camera ever constructed. Each panoramic snapshot will cover an area 40 times the size of the full moon.

In its planned 10-year run, the LSST will capture, process and store more than 30 terabytes (TB) of image data each night. Images and catalogues will be sent to various centers for reduction and analysis in several countries around the world, including Brazil.

By the end of the ten-year survey, scientists expect the LSST to have amassed 200 petabytes (PB) of images and data, enabling astronomers to address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the Universe, such as the distribution of dark matter and how its properties affect the formation of stars, galaxies, and larger structures.

Managing the transfer, processing, storage, analysis and scientific exploration of this huge amount of data, which will be generated almost without interruption, will be a major challenge, requiring new solutions in network communications, high-performance processing and database design. According to Diaz, Brazilian researchers will have a part to play in developing these solutions.

“It’s vital that Brazil effectively join the LSST project now and start to develop the infrastructure needed to prepare to analyze, interpret and reduce the unprecedented volume of data that will be generated by the telescope,” he said.

New Band

The agreement requires ANSP and RNP to provide a connection between Santiago and São Paulo with a data rate of 80 gigabits per second (Gbps) by 2019.

The speed of the fiber-optic network operated by ANSP and RNP linking São Paulo and Miami is 40 Gbps, but less than 20 Gbps is currently being used.

“It’s good that we’re using less half the speed of the network today because if we lose, say, 10 Gbps owing to a cable break or some technical hitch, we still have 30 Gbps of assured speed,” said Luis Fernandez Lopez, ANSP’s general manager.

To meet the LSST’s speed requirement, however, the academic networks will not need to invest more than is already planned for the next few years.

“We plan to increase the network’s speed in the years ahead, potentially reaching 400 Gbps,” Lopez said.

Also under the LSST agreement, ANSP and RNP will operate a new fiber-optic network obtained from the US government by the LSST consortium, between Santos, on the coast of São Paulo State, and Boca Raton in Miami.

Operating this network will enable ANSP to test new communications protocols that are not yet in commercial use but are potentially applicable by astronomers, astrophysicists, high-energy physicists, and other scientists who need special communications technology.

“We’ll take the opportunity to install our own technology in this new network and use it to transport any signal São Paulo’s scientists require,” Lopez said.

ANSP was established by FAPESP in 1989 to connect researchers in São Paulo State with colleagues in other Brazilian states and other countries.

Initially, it connected research groups in high-energy physics at the University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo State University (UNESP), the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the São Paulo State Technological Research Institute (IPT) with researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, Illinois (USA).

Today, ANSP connects seven public universities in São Paulo State and 40 other research institutions in the state over the World Wide Web, and it serves as a backbone for collaborative research projects in areas such as genomics, biodiversity, astronomy, high-energy physics, and photonics, among many others.

“All astronomers who receive data from telescopes and radio telescopes located in Chile, for example, use the ANSP network,” Lopez said.

Source: Website of the Agência FAPESP -


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