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Image Credit: NASA / GSFC SVS / Dana Berry
The GamingA project aims at creating a powerful interface to perform time series analysis on heterogeneous data from dozens of different astronomical missions from ESA, NASA and other agencies that share their data in reasonably compatible formats. This interface will serve the double purpose of facilitating the work of the principal stakeholders (scientists) and allowing an amateur audience to participate in real scientific work, integrating the work of scientists and contributing to the exploitation of otherwise neglected datasets.
The huge amount of data currently available to astrophysics is more than what can efficiently be analyzed and exploited without a huge expenditure in both work time of highly qualified professionals and computational resources, both bringing in an increment in budget requirements. GamingA yields a revolutionary approach to address this issue, allowing a new and economical approach for the exploitation of data from dozens of Astronomical space missions. GamingA is a time series analysis system conceived to process massive amounts of archival data from ESA and NASA space missions, using alternatively software services installed in cloud computing facilities, or the volunteer computing hardware. GamingA will provide scientists with an easy interface to rapidly search for periodicities and other time-domain phenomena in the data from dozens of space missions. Moreover, GamingA will open these repositories to the exploitation from non-professional audiences, thanks to two user-friendly, game-based interfaces and guided analysis procedures.
CLIENTS, PARTNERS, COLLABORATIONS: Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica; Infora soc. coop.; Nucleo Interactivo de Astronomia Associacao; EllinoGermaniki Agogi Scholi Panagea Savva; The Dill Faulkes Educational Trust Ltd.
In the context of imagers for planetary science experiments, high level science products are those products that are derived from the process of adding some science value or further processing to calibrated data products. Generating such products involve a significant understanding of the instrument with which they have been acquired and therefore their generation is usually limited to the instrument teams that usually have limited resources. Such products are byproducts of investigations that are made publicly available through services such as the Planetary Science Archive (PSA) at the European Space Agency. An example of a high-level image is an orthorectified image. Through orthorectification, the effects of image perspective and relief are removed for the purpose of creating a planimetrically correct image. The resultant orthorectified image has a constant scale wherein features are represented in their 'true' positions. This allows for the accurate direct measurement of distances, angles, and areas. Orthorectified images are commonly used as in visualization tools such as Google Earth, OSSIM Planet, ArcMap, Blender, etc.. The requisite inputs for orthorectification are (1) an image with accurate sensor geometry and (2) an elevation model of the ground surface (DEM). The resulting accuracy of the ortho-image is based on the accuracy of the triangulation, the resolution of the source image, and the accuracy of the elevation model. A working example of such process can be achieved using the open source 3D creation suite Blender. Realistic spacecraft movement is achieved with position information from Spacecraft and Planetary ephemerides, Instrument C-matrix and Event (SPICE) kernels, and can be ingested using the Blender application programming interface (API). With the DTM import procedure, cartographically accurate, three-dimensional models are created afterwards a raster matching the projection and extents of a DTM can be imported. The orthorectified image that accompanies each DTM can then be used to generate renders and animations.
This project prototyped an end-to-end process to encapsulate the required processing and appropriate display for such high-level products by developing a tool to realistically animate terrain flyovers including spacecraft movement requiring the capacity of loading digital terrain models (DTMs) and generating orthorectified images. It also prototyped the usage of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality in the exploitation of planetary science datasets.
CLIENTS, PARTNERS, COLLABORATIONS: European Space Agency.
The objective is to use for the first time the historic observations from Apollo 15 to obtain an all-sky view of the X-ray sky in Summer 1971, potentially identifying new transient sources. The activity is based on data from the X-ray instrument onboard Apollo 15. During the journey from the Moon back to Earth, pointed observations were made of the X- ray sky (such as Cyg X-1 and Sco X-1). During the last day of mission (in August 1971), the instrument was left operating all the time. Due to the rotation (barbecue-roll) of the Command/Service Module (CSM) during the latter period, the field-of-view of the instrument crossed among bright X-ray sources, like Sco X-1 and GX 5–1 and possible transient X-ray sources active at the time. The instrument consisted not only of an X-ray detector assembly (sensitive in the 0.75-6 keV X-ray energy band), but also a Solar X-ray monitor (operating in the 1–3 keV energy band) which was mounted on the opposite side of the CSM. Using the currently known attitude and positional information of the CSM, one can devise a sort of "all- sky" X-ray map based on the X-ray light curves of the detector assembly and Solar monitor during the journey back to Earth. The information on the X-ray state of the observed sources can be used to compare with other (fragmented) observations around the same time.
CLIENTS, PARTNERS, COLLABORATIONS: European Space Agency.
In the professional astrophyisics community, there are a number of official software packages for X-ray spectral fitting (e.g., XSPEC, ISIS, Sherpa). Such widely-used, flexible, and standard software packages did not exist for X-ray timing, so it was mostly done with custom, proprietary software. During the 2016 workshop The X-ray Spectral-Timing Revolution, TIMELAB together with a group of X-ray astronomers and developers decided on a common platform to develop a new software package. This software package, Stingray, provides the basis for developing spectral-timing analysis tools, and is structured with the Astropy guidelines for modern open-source scientific programming. Stingray has a scripting interface (HENDRICS), an affiliated GUI (DAVE), and a public API for power-users. Our goal is to provide the community with a package that eases the learning curve for advanced spectral-timing techniques, with a correct statistical framework.
Join our open source community: Stingray
CLIENTS, PARTNERS, COLLABORATIONS: European Space Agency; New York University; University of Washington; INAF/Observatory of Cagliari; University of Amsterdam.
Photo courtesy of 4M Analytics
From Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor: "During and after conflicts, these weapons can be found on roads, footpaths, farmer’s fields, forests, deserts, along borders, in and surrounding houses and schools, and in other places where people carry out their daily activities. They can deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement, limiting people’s ability to participate in education or access medical care. Mine and ERW contamination may also prevent the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced people, and hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid. Mine and ERW-affected countries incur costs related to clearing mines, destroying stockpiles, and providing assistance to mine and ERW survivors. More generally, development and post-conflict reconstruction are hindered when access to resources is limited and when people sustain serious, long-term injuries due to mines and ERW."
Within the large number of activities of mine clearance, we focus our efforts on the detection of landmines. Given the number of different materials used to build the cage of many antipersonal landmines, which includes metal but also plastic, depending on the mine it might not be detectable with common instruments like metal detectors. Therefore, we are focusing our research on the detection of its explosive charge. Using GEANT4, we are simulating an X-ray Backscatter Coded Mask Imager with a CZT detector to study its possible use as imager of explosive material in buried landmine.