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SKA joins research data revolution through ESCAPE project

The SKA was identified as a landmark project in the European Commission’s infrastructure roadmap, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in 2016. Above are the physical science ESFRI projects in astronomy, astroparticle and particle physics that form the focus of the ESCAPE cluster (clockwise from top left: ELT, CTA, FAIR, KM3NeT, EST, HL-LHC, SKA).

SKA Global Headquarters, 20 November 2018 – The SKA has joined 30 fellow research infrastructures to collaborate on a new science data initiative, which forms part of efforts to create a European cloud for scientific research.

Launched today, ESCAPE (The European Science Cluster of Astronomy & Particle Physics ESFRI Research Infrastructures) is supported by €16 million of funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework with the purpose of finding solutions to shared data challenges.

“For the SKA, our participation in ESCAPE will focus on developing technology and processes that will inform the global network of SKA Regional Centres (SRCs),” says Dr Antonio Chrysostomou, SKA Organisation Head of Science Operations Planning. SRCs will be hubs spread around the world which will enable researchers to access SKA science data products.

“We want the SKA community to have the same experience wherever they are in the world, so prototyping around how to share, access and visualize data, and how the process can then be scaled up to a global level, will provide important lessons for us.”

ESCAPE brings together 31 partner projects and institutions.

ESCAPE funding will enable SKA Organisation to bring on board personnel to focus on the project’s work packages relating to developing a science platform for data sharing, interoperability and communication using Virtual Observatory protocols, software deployment and user interfaces.

ESCAPE involves 31 partners at the cutting edge of research in astronomy and particle physics, including the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIV-ERIC), ASTRON, Istituto Nazionale d’Astrofisica (INAF), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and CERN, with the project being led by IN2P3, the French National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics.

“It is the first time that many of the greatest European scientific facilities in physics and astronomy have combined forces to make their data and software interoperable and open, committing to make the European Science Cloud a reality,” says IN2P3’s Dr Giovanni Lamanna, Principal Investigator of ESCAPE. “This is an important milestone for European scientific research.”

The European Open Science Cloud project (EOSC) project aims to facilitate universal access to scientific data through a single online platform, allowing both professional researchers and the general public to re-use data produced by other scientists. It is an effort to harness the full potential of the vast amounts of data that will be created by next-generation facilities like the SKA.

“The scope of the SKA, both in terms of its global footprint and its scientific challenge, demands a paradigm shift in approach if its potential benefits are to be fully realised,” adds Dr Chrysostomou.  “EOSC will help to promote a culture of accessibility and rigour that can only benefit astronomy in this multi-wavelength, ‘multi-messenger’ era.”

Read the official ESCAPE press release here