AstroGrid, a UK eScience project with collaborating groups drawn from the major UK data archive centres, is creating the UK's virtual observatory.
AstroGrid has now completed its requirements capture and design stages, and has begun to release software capabilities on a three monthly cycle. It is using the iterative process, with eight iterations, with each successive iteration release building a working system comprising increasing capabilities.
AstroGrid's first functional release with it's 'Iteration 2' product, and the capabilities and functionality that this provides, is described. AstroGrid's technical input into joint products in conjunction with the European Astrophysical Virtual Observatory, and the Australian VO, is discussed.
The component based AstroGrid architecture and how external projects may be able to deploy components of interest in constructing there 'VO' - for instance the use of MySpace to provide secure intermediate 'grid' user storage areas, is discussed.
AstroGrid is a UK eScience project with collaborating groups drawn from the major UK data archive centres, is creating the UK's first virtual observatory. Together with the other major world-wide virtual observatory projects (see the International Virtual Observatory Alliance), AstroGrid is creating a set of co-operating and interoperable software systems that will: allow users to interrogate multiple data centres in a seamless and transparent way; provide powerful new analysis and visualisation tools; and give data centres and providers a standard framework for publishing and delivering services using their data.
AstroGrid is developing a standardised framework to allow creative diversity, which will:
In it's fist year, AstroGrid produced a detailed Phase-A report, setting out the science requirements for the project, and outlining the general architecture and software components that would be produced during the two year 'build phase' of the project. The current AstroGrid architecture, is diagrammatically shown in Figure 1.
It should be noted that AstroGrid is being constructed in a modular fashion. Thus, various modules, such as MySpace, could be deployed by other projects, in a standalone manner, or in combination with other AstroGrid modules, such as the Registry module. AstroGrid is in active discussion with other global VO projects as to how they might be able to benefit from use of part or all of the AstroGrid component framework.
An overview of the architecture can be found on the AstroGrid Wiki site at http://wiki.astrogrid.org/bin/view/Astrogrid/ArchOverview. This also shows various deployment scenarios, of how user groups, such as data centres, tools providers, other VO projects, might employ AstroGrid components in their specific situation.
For a more detailed description of a number of the components of AstroGrid, see elsewhere in these proceedings: MySpace (Davenhall et al. 2004), Registry (Auden et al. 2004).
AstroGrid has now completed its requirements capture and design stages, and has begun to release software capabilities on a, nominally, three monthly cycle. In its two year build phase, AstroGrid is using the iterative process, with eight iterations, typically of three months, with each successive iteration release building a working system with progressively enhanced functionality. The first iteration was released March 31, 2003, with iteration two being released June 30, 2003. These two iterations laid down the initial component framework.
This iteration included the following components:
AstroGrid and the Australian Virtual Observatory (Aus-VO) have jointly produced a visualisation system for data cubes that allows real-time control of the user's viewpoint via a "virtual camera". The visualiser software runs on powerful compute clusters. The data inputs are user selected and transfered to the computer process using grid service technologies. This product is fully described in Rixon et al (2004). It is an example of the types of applications that will be made available through the AstroGrid infrastructure..
In the context of the AVO 1st Light demonstrator, Quinn et al., 2004, AstroGrid developed the web service wrapper to the SExtractor source extraction application (Bertin & Arnouts, 1996). This enables user initiated re-extractions of image data, a powerful additional capability.
With the recent deployment of its iteration 3 release, AstroGrid has
embarked on a rigorous 'beta-testing' programme. In the early stages,
when science functionality is somewhat limited, a small group of
interested scientists have been invited to gain hands on experience of
the AstroGrid system. Their feedback and input will help the
project understand issues such as functionality provision, usability
and reliability. As further iteration releases are rolled out, it is
anticipated that the 'beta-test' community will enlarge, as the system
begins to meet the needs of a wider range of research programmes.
Information concerning the Beta test programme is available at:
By the end of 2004 AstroGrid will have constructed a fully functional prototype VO system, linking together major data centres in the UK, and providing seamless access to high value data sets such as that being generated from the UKIRT infrared camera through the UKIDSS survey. In order to ensure that the AstroGrid system is hardened into a robust production system, further funding is being agreed through end 2007, to support the necessary functional enhancements to the system.
Auden, E. C., Linde, A. E., Noddle, K. T., Richards, A. M. S., Walton, N. A., 2004, this volume, 342
Bertin, E., Arnouts, S., 1996, A&AS, 117, 393
Davenhall, A. C., Qin, C. L., Noddle K. T. & Walton, N. A. 2004, this volume, 330
Lawrence, A. 2003, in Proceedings of UK e-Science All Hands Meeting, Nottingham, ed. S. J. Cox (Swindon: EPSRC), 428
Quinn, P. J., et al., 2004, this volume, 304
Rixon, G. T., Barnes, D., Beeson, B., Ortiz, P., Yu, J., 2004, this volume, 509