I-LOFAR is a true ‘big data’ project, and as part of the International LOFAR Telescope, is a pathfinder telescope to the future Square Kilometre Array telescope, which will create perhaps the largest dataset in the world (an exabyte per day!).
To date, the data processing capabilities of I-LOFAR have not been sufficient to allow the telescope study astronomy objects that vary rapidly. However, members of the I-LOFAR consortium at UCC and NUIG have recently obtained SFI funding to create a data processing system that can intensively analyse and rapidly store the data stream as it emerges from the telescope, giving I-LOFAR a new and powerful capability to study the transient radio sky. The system builds on the heritage of the ARTEMIS system designed by the Oxford e-Research Centre.
In July 2018, a team from UCC, NUIG, TCD and Oxford/Berkeley team set up 5 Dell-EMC PowerEdge GPU/CPU blades and 300 terabytes of storage. Over the coming months, this will enable us to study a wide range of fascinating astronomy targets such as aurora in planetary atmospheres, pulsars, solar radio bursts, nova explosions, and fast radio bursts.
The I-LOFAR processing cluster may even be used to assist in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), in collaboration with the Breakthrough Listen foundation.