B3D networks partners with different scientific interests and competences, with access to diverse technological and astronomical infrastructures. We are united by the goal of helping to solve the exciting cosmic mysteries: What drives the evolution of the universe, its visible and invisible matter and energy? What determines the relationship between the fundamental interactions of nature? What are space and time? What insights does a look at the Big Bang or at the strong gravitational fields of black holes offer?
Astrophysics is facing a unique upheaval. An understanding of unexplained phenomena such as dark energy or dark matter requires technological developments that generate data volumes at rates comparable to those of the entire internet. Therefore, gaining scientific knowledge through the instruments under development requires an interdisciplinary approach with central involvement of the data sciences. Above all, the development of integrated machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainable, energy-efficient storage (Green IT) is an important component for the climate-friendly realisation of a modern IT society. Astronomy can be an innovation driver and role model here.
The observatories directly associated with B3D guarantee a long-term basis for our activities as "data producers". These include the Effelsberg 100m radio telescope, LOFAR, MeerKAT, SOFIA, IRAM, APEX and ALMA, and in the near future FYST/CCAT-prime and SKA, but also huge amounts of synthetic data obtained through HPC-based modelling combined with AI and ML analysis.
The MPIfR represents German interests in the SKA Observatory Council via the MPG. MeerKAT is operated by the MPG and South Africa as an extended MeerKAT+, the data of which are thus accessible to us. The FZJ, the RUB, the UBi and the MPIfR are working together to set up and operate LOFAR infrastructure. In particular, in a collaboration between the UBi and the MPIfR, a German observation mode was developed that enables the observation of pulsars with high cadence. The MPIfR has long led one of the LOFAR Key Science projects on cosmic magnetism and has now built the SKA prototype antenna.
In the D-MeerKAT consortium, which has been funded by the BMBF since 2017, RUB, TUDo, FZJ and the MPIfR are cooperating, among other things, on the construction of a prototype data centre at FZJ for MeerKAT, which can also process LOFAR data. UBo and UzK have been cooperating for over 10 years in the operation of the ALMA observatory and in the construction of the FYST/CCAT-prime telescope.
HBRS is concerned with methods relevant to data-intensive radio astronomy. Through the Institute for Visual Computing (IVC), HBRS contributes expertise in the cross-sectional area of visual analysis of big data, interactive systems (AR/VR), 3D user interfaces and AI-based visualisation methods.
The Verein für datenintensive Radioastronomie e.V. (Association for Data-Intensive Radio Astronomy), whose office is being set up in Bonn, allows effective national coordination of the interests and activities mentioned.
B3D also ties in with the planned activities in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), where we are significantly involved in the PUNCH4NFDI consortium. Here, the Bonn partners are jointly responsible for the area of "Training, Outreach and Citizen Science", and our alliance is represented in a leading role in the fields of "Data Management" and "Data Irreversibility". A new Cologne-Bonn Collaborative Research Centre planned for 2023 (SFB 956 expires at the end of 2022 after 12 years of funding) is to receive further regional networking through B3D and an important professional addition with regard to the data centre and data science. In addition, the B3D activities find many points of contact in established cross-sectional structures of the B3D partners or those that are currently being established, e.g. the Bielefeld Centre for Data Science (BiCDaS). In the medium term, we want to expand our involvement in the federal government's excellence strategy.