"We need to get smart sooner rather than later on how to design and build a system that doesn't just live out on these machines at government or company data centers, but extends the cloud right down to your computer," Howe said.
Someday the tool should be easy enough that undergraduates and high-school students could sift through raw data themselves, he said.
A second grant will use cloud computing to study astronomical images. Astronomy has changed dramatically during the past decade, says Andrew Connolly, a UW associate professor of astronomy who was awarded the grant with UW research scientist Jeffrey Gardner. Scientists once competed for time on telescopes, recorded data and then studied the individual images in detail. Now telescopes continuously record high-resolution images that are available to all, providing millions of times more information.
"In the past I could have spent a couple of hours working on a single image. But now, if I have to multiply it by factors of many tens of thousands, that couple of hours each becomes something that's not feasible," Connolly said.
Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! have now created frameworks that make it easier to store and process information in the cloud and make the information available over the Web.
"We want to use these frameworks to enable science, and make it so that astronomers can come in and do the work that they need to do without needing to learn the intricacies of how to work with thousands of machines," Connolly said.
His grant will prepare astronomers to deal with data coming from telescopes scheduled to come online in coming years, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, of which the UW is a founding institution. The telescope's 27-foot mirror is connected to a 3.2 billion-pixel camera that takes pictures every 15 se
|Contact: Hannah Hickey|
University of Washington