A new data centre at New York University Abu Dhabi will host crucial scientific data collected by space observatories.
The National Data Centre (NDC) at NYUAD will be the first location in the UAE that will acquire, archive and process selected scientific data sets from space missions.
Work on the data centre will begin next year, and researchers at NYUAD are looking to collaborate with other institutions in the UAE to facilitate widespread user access to the database.
“Space science cannot proceed forward without high-quality measurements,” said Shravan Hanasoge, co-principal investigator at the NYUAD Centre for Space Science.
“The data taken by billion-dollar space-based observatories can be used to make important scientific contributions. We hope that the ease of access to this data in the UAE will significantly boost space science research in the region.”
Space data is usually publicly available online but requires heavy infrastructure and computing power to be accessed and analysed remotely. A local repository at NYUAD will make it easier to access datasets that can sometimes be several terabytes in size.
The NDC will store observations from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Kepler space mission, both of which are essential to performing research in solar and stellar physics. The data has now been made publicly available by NASA as a matter of its policy but infrastructure in the UAE is needed to analyse the data locally.
The centre will build relevant capacity for facilitating pre-launch studies associated with the Emirati Mars Mission, Solar Orbiter and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. An important, long-term goal is to prepare for the PLATO mission, which was adopted by the European Space Agency in June and will be launched in 2026.
The Centre for Space Science also plans to hold periodic workshops for users interested in learning how to access and use the database. The presence of local experts will make it possible to handle special download requests such as unusual combinations or exhaustive copies.