Space scientists will be ringing in the new year with an innovative new online platform for research and collaboration. The Cloud Enabled Space Weather Modelling and Simulation Platform (CESWP) project, managed by Cybera, has completed its test phase and will be accepting user applications in January 2012.
The CESWP project, launched in beta form in October 2009, was designed to simplify access to powerful compute resources for space weather modelling and simulations. These simulations are used to understand and predict harmful effects of solar storms on spacecraft, as well as weather and navigation satellites, and are often expensive and complicated to run. They require a large amount of heterogeneous computing and data resources, often from a variety of locations, which necessitates the availability of high-speed networks and IT. CESWP shields users from all of the associated complexities by integrating compute resources into a common platform through the use of open-source cloud computing software, and a remotely accessible web portal.
'The CESWP project is directly in line with Cybera's goal to connect people ' in this case, space scientists ' using advanced computer resources, which will better enable them to perform leading-edge research,' says Robin Winsor, President and CEO of Cybera. 'The project has also allowed Cybera to demonstrate what cloud computing is capable of, in terms of aiding big data research.'
'CESWP makes it easier for scientists anywhere in the world to develop and collaborate on space weather simulations, and run them on virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud,' says Robert Rankin, Professor of Physics at the University of Alberta, and Principal Investigator for CESWP. 'This means space scientists can spend more time focusing on their research, which CESWP facilitates by allowing them to package models, software libraries and operating systems into VMs that can be transferred onto physical hardware with the click of a button.'
The $900,000 CESWP project is one of several Network-Enabled Platforms (NEP) Programs across Canada funded by CANARIE. These projects leverage CANARIE's ultra-high capacity and high-speed research network to enable broader access to leading-edge research data and tools.
'The CESWP project, and others like it, accelerates research outcomes,' says Jim Roche, President and CEO of CANARIE. 'By making these massive data sets and sophisticated tools easily available to a broad range of scientists and researchers, we are opening the door to new opportunities for discovery and innovation.'
'I'm looking forward to the launch of the CESWP,' says Hans De Sterck, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. De Sterck contributed to the development and testing of the platform, and he built a space weather forecast model that will be deployed on CESWP. 'Not only will this platform make it easier for my research team to develop complex models and simulations for predicting space weather, but it also creates a central location where we will be able to store information and develop models together, regardless of where our members are located.'
Other partners of the CESWP project include the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, New Brunswick and Waterloo. The University of California, Los Angeles, and Peking University in China are international participants. Cybera's role with the beta stage of the project ends December 31, 2011.