STRW local: Colloquia


Visualisation and exploration of the Gaia archive and other very large data sets

Date: 25-10-2018
Time: 11:00 h
Author: Andre Moitinho de Almeida

By 2022, the ESA Gaia mission will have produced a Petabyte archive. So will the upcoming EUCLID mission. The LSST Telescope, starting around 2020 will produce several Petabytes. In fact, most of the data leading to new astronomical discoveries are now expected to come from huge online archives. With almost 1700 million sources as of Data Release 2, issued last April, the information content of the Gaia Archive is already unimaginable. It is also transforming the way data exploration is done. Within the panoply of methods used for data exploration, visualisation is often the starting point and even the guiding reference for scientific thought. However, this is a volume of data that cannot be efficiently explored using traditional tools, techniques, and habits. In this talk I present the approach developed for the Gaia Archive. The Gaia Visualization Service (GAVS) is both a web platform for interactive visual exploration of the Gaia data; and a provider of intelligible visual representations of the enormous information content of the archive. Examples of these representations are the all sky maps that became the iconic images of the Gaia Data releases. As a web service, GAVS is designed to handle many simultaneous users exploring a variety of plots in a scalable way. The service has proved robust, having not crashed in the months it has been running at ESA, despite several heavy access epochs and considering that it is sustained by a single machine. Lessons learned and open challenges for Gaia and future, even larger, missions are discussed.