Astronomy and Astrophysics researchers at Athabasca University's (AU) Geophysical Observatory can now transfer high-volume research data twice as efficiently thanks to a new direct connection to CyberaNet, Alberta's high-speed, high-bandwidth gateway to Canada's national research network, CANARIE. This upgrade from a commercial internet connection positions AU as one of the few university observatories in Canada that can capture ground-based imagery from a relatively dark location and transmit it over a high-bandwidth network like CyberaNet.
'In the past we've had issues with backups and reliability that we hope will be solved through better connectivity,' says Dr. Martin Connors, Canada Research Chair in Space Science, Instrumentation and Networking at AU. 'Solving this sort of problem will be enabling as we spearhead the effort to have a pan-Canadian array to gather space data from the best place in the world to gather it ' Canada.'
The connection to CyberaNet is the concluding phase of a complete re-architecture of AU's computing network. As a result of the CyberaNet connection redirecting AU's high-volume research traffic, commercial bandwidth can now be focused on enhancing the online learning experiences of AU's 38,000 students.
Cybera, a not-for-profit organization accelerating Alberta's competitive advantage in research and development, operates CyberaNet to support Alberta researchers' data management and collaboration needs. For example, space science researchers at AU collect some of their datasets from magnetometers, distributed across Canada, which measure changes in the earth's magnetic field and provide valuable information about the space environment. These researchers can now use CyberaNet to synchronize those datasets with the Canadian Space Science Data Portal (CSSDP).
The CSSDP project, funded by CANARIE, is a custom web portal that provides space scientists with a seamless, single-point of access to a wide range of space data, observations, and investigative tools.
'Making the data easily available over high-speed networks through an intelligent interface will increase the impact and use of the data.' says Dr. Robert Rankin, Professor of Physics at the University of Alberta, and Principal Investigator for the CSSDP project. 'Insertion of new datasets into the CSSDP also facilitates collaborative use of the data by various science teams.'
Cybera is collaborating with universities across Canada to extend the capabilities of the CSSDP portal and enable researchers around the world to access, share and analyze its diverse data sets. AU's direct connection to CyberaNet helps strengthen the university's participation in that project.
'Cybera is committed to supporting leading edge scientific research,' says Robin Winsor, Cybera President and CEO. 'Initiatives like this, combining both the network and collaboration tools, make the scientists more productive and result in applications that lend themselves to industry and community use.'
'AU operates in virtual space and therefore needs to constantly invest in its cyberinfrastructure,' says Brian Stewart, Chief Information Officer at AU. 'The completion of the CyberaNet project marks a major step forward on our path to create our Open Knowledge Environment, which will provide learners and researchers with a world class virtual space to engage provincial, national and global research communities.'
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Cybera works with public and private partners to accelerate research and product development in priority areas, including health, energy and environment, and ICT. Cybera also manages CyberaNet and acts as the prime contractor for the management of WestGrid, a consortium that provides advanced computing in support of research across the province.
CyberaNet is a high-speed, high-bandwidth network that connects Alberta researchers to 42 other advanced networks around the world. CyberaNet is also linked to the Alberta SuperNet, providing connectivity to various education institutes and community organizations across the province.
About Athabasca University:
Athabasca University is one of the world's foremost distance and online post-secondary institutions. The university serves over 38,000 graduate and undergraduate students and offers more than 750 courses in 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees, diploma and certificate programs.
The CSSDP is a secure data distribution portal for the Canadian GeoSpace Monitoring program (CGSM), involving six university and government partners that are each responsible for management, archival and validation of their own data. The CSSDP presents users with a seamless, single point of access to CGSM data, visualization tools, and value-added data products.
CANARIE Inc. is Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network. Established in 1993, CANARIE manages an ultra high-speed network, hundreds of times faster than the Internet, which facilitates leading-edge research and big science across Canada and around the world. More than 39,000 researchers at nearly 200 Canadian universities and colleges use the CANARIE network, as well as scientists at many research institutes, hospitals, and government laboratories throughout the country.