The University of Manchester

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Astrophysical Virtual Observatory Astronomer for
Jodrell Bank Observatory

Background

The Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO) is an EU-funded project. It is a three-year, Phase-A study and demonstration of the scientific requirements, methodologies and technologies necessary to establish and operate a virtual observatory for European astronomy. The goal is to connect distributed astronomical data sets from ground and space-based observatories into a seamless, multi-wavelength, digital view of the Universe. Within this digital cosmos, astronomers can use software and hardware tools as virtual telescopes to answer fundamental questions in astronomy that cannot be addressed with conventional approaches.

Jodrell Bank Observatory (JBO) is one of the members of the AVO Consortium (ESO, ST-ECF, CDS, TERAPIX, Astrogrid, JBO). JBO houses the astronomical research activities of the University of Manchester. About 80 academic and support staff and, typically 20 research students are based at the Observatory, which is situated in rural Cheshire, some 20 miles south of the main campus in Manchester. JBO is the control centre for nine large radio telescopes (including the 76m diameter Lovell Telescope) and hosts the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which is operated by the University on behalf of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC). JBO is also a member of the UK’s Astrogrid Project, a multi-million pound project run by a consortium of British Universities and research institutes aimed at building a data-grid for UK astronomy.

JBO has proposed an upgrade to MERLIN, called e-MERLIN, which aims to connect the telescopes together with fibre-optic cables thus increasing the sensitivity of the array by a factor of up to 30. The data-rates from e-MERLIN will be orders of magnitude larger than the current system, generating up to 0.5Tbytes/day. Accessing the valuable archive from MERLIN and e-MERLIN and exploiting it in conjunction with the archives of other telescopes at other wavebands in a transparent fashion through the GRID is one of the principal aims of the AVO.

JBO has just installed a major new computing facility in the shape of a 182 processor ‘Beowulf-style’ cluster running Linux. This facility, named COBRA, is the most powerful computer devoted to astronomy in the UK. It will be used primarily in on-line observation work, it will also be available for the development and testing of parallel software applications for the AVO project.

Job Description

The person appointed as AVO astronomer will be primarily responsible for the following areas of work:

  1. specifying the metadata and interfaces required to ensure full interoperability of the MERLIN and other radio archives with those in other wavebands.
  2. developing the software and other tools to enable routine and transparent generation of radio images from the archived visibility data. It is anticipated that such tools will be developed in the aips++ environment. Aips++ is the new generation system for the reduction of astronomical data.
  3. investigating the use of aips++ and the new tools within the parallel computing environment provided by COBRA.
  4. liasing with the UK Astrogrid Consortium

Person Specification

Candidates must have:

  • a good degree in mathematical or physical science (or equivalent qualification)
  • experience of scientific software development
  • experience of astronomical data processing

The following would be advantageous:

  • experience of developing software for parallel architectures
  • experience of C, C++ and/or Java
  • experience of using the Unix operating system

-- TonyLinde - 04 Feb 2002

Topic revision: r1 - 2002-02-04 - 11:50:00 - TonyLinde
 
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