ANU has released 18 terabytes of imagery from its SkyMapper telescope.

In the first data release of its kind for the SkyMapper project, years of preparation by the ANU SkyMapper team and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) will allow astronomers wishing to learn more about the southern night sky to access to an unprecedented amount of imagery and measurements.

“The SkyMapper project will generate 2 Petabytes of data (raw and calibrated), which need to be not only archived, but accessible on-demand by the Australian and world science community through a real-time access portal,” said Dr Christian Wolf, Principal Investigator of the ANU SkyMapper team.

Public access to the catalogues and images for the SkyMapper First Data Release is provided by the All-Sky Virtual Observatory (ASVO), an online federated network of astronomical datasets.

NCI hosts the SkyMapper node of ASVO, providing an integrated and comprehensive environment for the hosting, analysis and exploration of the SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey data, including image details and object measurements.

NCI’s resources are required at every stage of the SkyMapper data ingestion process. Raw data from the SkyMapper telescope is transferred directly to NCI and then duplicated, with copies prepared on both the high-speed global Lustre filesystems (hard disk based) as well as the tape-based archive.   

Having live access to the data allows researchers to carry out image processing and brightness measurements of night sky objects.

This process categorises objects within the raw night sky imagery, including stars, galaxies, asteroids or even candidates for the elusive Planet Nine, a large hypothetical object in the outer Solar System.  

This information is stored in the SkyMapper database, hosted at NCI, which underpins current and future releases of SkyMapper data.

The latest data release can be accessed here.