The Parkes Radio Telescope has been given a substantial upgrade in capability, thanks to high performance computing solutions company, XENON. As part of the Breakthrough Listen project, The Parkes Observatory in New South Wales will use XENON servers along with a fully redundant storage system to process vast amounts of observation data.
The servers for the Parkes radio telescope receives up to 9.6 Gb/s of data which is stored locally, then uses GPUs to process for spectral analysis. Upon completing an observation, the resulting data is then sent off-site using a 10 Gigabit Ethernet link to transmit for long-term storage. This frees up the local servers and storage nodes for another observation.
This project is lead by engineers and scientists from the University of California Berkeley SETI Research Center working alongside CSIRO’s ATNF (Australia Telescope National Facility). The Breakthrough Listen began in 2015 and is supported by Stephen Hawking and a $100 million grant from Yuri Milner.
It has been responsible for monitoring billions of interstellar radio frequencies in search of extra-terrestrial life. Australia’s Southern Hemisphere location of Parkes, provides a unique perspective for observing the Milky Way’s galactic plane as well as the Alpha Centauri star system which includes Proxima Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbour and its recently discovered planet Proxima Centauri b.
If you’re a science geek, then make sure you tune into ABC Catalyst on Tuesday 12th September 2017 at 8pm, where they’ll feature this exciting search for extrasolar civilisations.