Whether dealing with high-power particle accelerators, astronomical observatories or Earth-watching spacecraft, modern science involves vast volumes of information, and researchers require powerful Grid computing techniques to manage this data deluge.
And at a time when the research teams working on the biggest scientific problems of our time – from climate modelling to molecular biology or high energy physics - are larger and more diffuse than ever before, Grid computing offers a promising way for such groups to perform e-collaboration: forming virtual organisations able to remotely work together, sharing data, tools and resources. A two-day workshop at ESAs centre in Italy this week covered scientific and also industrial Grid computing applications, highlighting current systems as well as the likely course of future Grid development and applications. Around 40 local scientific researchers and representatives from industry gathered for the Grid and e-Collaboration for the Space Community workshop. The event took place on 2 and 3 February at the European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) in Frascati overlooking Rome. A day of discussion was followed by a second day of tutorials in Grid use.
It was an appropriate locale because ESRIN is dedicated to Earth Observation data archiving and distribution, an increasingly demanding task. For example, in just under three years of Envisat satellite operations, two Petabytes of derived data have now been archived, enough information to fill 20 million filing cabinets. The need to handle these much data and make them available to users has led ESRIN to take up Grid technology. "We have begun an Earth Science Grid-On-Demand service based on our local Grid," explained organiser Luigi Fusco of ESRIN. "From this single site, users gain access to large volumes of Earth Observation data and can easily and quickly perform a variety of data reprocessing, including fine-tuning new algorithms to get optimal results." Applications so far include satellite image mosaicking to monitor changing global chlorophyll concentrations on a monthly basis and tracking iceberg movement in polar regions.
Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
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