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Pierfederici, F., Valdes, F., Smith, C., Hiriart, R., & Miller, M. 2003, in ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 314 Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XIII, eds. F. Ochsenbein, M. Allen, & D. Egret (San Francisco: ASP), 476

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The NOAO Mosaic Pipeline Architecture

Francesco Pierfederici1, Francisco Valdes2, Chris Smith3, Rafael Hiriart4, Michelle Miller5
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ 85719


The NOAO Mosaic Pipeline is a fully distributed and parallel system able to efficiently process and reduce mosaic imaging data in near real time. Basic CCD reduction, removal of instrumental features (e.g. fringes, pupil ghosts and crosstalk), astrometric calibration and zero point photometric calibration are performed. The NOAO Mosaic Pipeline System is composed of a variable number of processing nodes organized in a network. Data can enter the processing network at any node, thus improving the robustness of the whole architecture. While being developed with the NOAO Mosaic Imagers in mind, the system is general enough that it could be easily customized to handle other instruments.

1. Overview

The main characteristics of the NOAO Mosaic Pipeline System are:

2. System Architecture

To the outside world, the NOAO Pipeline System appears as a black box (Fig. 1). Data is submitted to the Pipeline either directly from the telescope or from the NOAO Science Archive. A pipeline operator is able to constantly monitor the health and performance of the system and, if necessary, completely control the processing.

Quality control data is produced at several steps in the Pipeline, covering both basic telemetry and advanced image parameters (e.g. sky uniformity, PSF variations etc.). Monitor GUIs can subscribe to these streams of informations, enabling, for instance, the instrument scientist to monitor the performance of the instrument.

The system produces calibrated data, master calibration frames, catalogues and data quality information that can be delivered to the observer and ingested in the Science Archive.

Figure 1: Schematic description of the NOAO Mosaic Pipeline architecture.

3. Node Architecture

Processing nodes have a layered architecture, as illustrated in Fig. 2. The Processing Software (e.g. IRAF tasks, scripts, compiled code) does the actual number crunching. The Software is logically organized in modules. Modules are then grouped into standalone pipelines. Pipelines form the full processing system. Any number of instances of each module can be started, to fully exploit the processing power of the host machine.

The Black Board subsystem is responsible for making data flow through the processing modules/pipelines (modules and pipelines can be dynamically chained together at run-time, using an XML based configuration system). The Black Board also provides an event handling and message passing framework that individual modules and pipelines use.

The Node Manager is a high performance server, running on each node. It fully controls the operation of the Pipeline System on that node, allowing pipeline operators (via Control GUIs) to:

  1. Start/stop/restart the whole Pipeline System or parts of it.
  2. Control the processing of each dataset.
  3. Monitor the status of the processing network.

The Node Manager also serves as load balancer. This functionality is implemented in a fairly sophisticated algorithm able to ``predict'' the load of a given processing node given its current CPU load, number of processors, number of instances of a given pipeline and the number of files in the queue.

The current architecture implements well defined interfaces for inter-machine communication and for communications with Monitor and Control GUIs. Data being processed, software and state are always kept local to each machine (having a private copy of the Black Board). The result is that each node of the processing network is an independent entity. This makes the NOAO Pipeline able to handle the failure of one or more nodes by transparently re-routing data to the available machines.

Figure 2: Schematic description of the NOAO architecture of the processing network.


Hiriart, R., Valdes, F., Pierfederici, F., Smith, C. & Miller, M. 2004, this volume, 74 .


... Pierfederici1
... Valdes2
... Smith3
... Hiriart4
... Miller5
... 7

© Copyright 2004 Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Avenue, San Francisco, California 94112, USA
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