Letters of Intent received in 2022

LoI 2024-2187
Astronomy in the Era of Big Data: novel approaches to scientific visualisation

Date: 5 August 2024 to 16 August 2024
Category: Focus meetings (GA)
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Contact: Lucia Marchetti (lucia.marchetti@uct.ac.za)
Coordinating division: Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science
Other divisions: Division J Galaxies and Cosmology
Co-Chairs of SOC: Lucia Marchetti (University of Cape Town)
Mark Subarrao (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Jayanne English (University of Manitoba)
Thjis Van Der Hulst (University of Groeningen)
Michelle Cluver (Swinburne University of Technology)
Co-Chairs of LOC: Lucia Marchetti (University of Cape Town)
Alex Sivitilli (University of Cape Town)



The Focus meeting will host talks, demos and discussions around the following main topics:
- Cloud-based visualisation tools: new approaches for big data handling
- Interoperability and collaborative environments for visualisation
- Digital planetaria as research facilities: data2dome, what does it take?
- AR/VR data visualisation tools for astronomy: challenges, applications and future developments
- Adapting innovative visualisation methods from other fields to astronomy
- Recent visualisation use-cases and what is still missing for the astronomical community
- Hands-on session to demonstrate novel technologies/visualisation software



With the advent of the SKA and other exascale science facilities, there is a growing need to identify new approaches in handling the exploration and detailed interrogation of multi-parametric (big) astronomical datasets. Although astronomers may have access to increased GPU power and cloud-based architecture for data storage and processing, they can’t rely solely on automation and machine learning algorithms to analyse data of ever-increasing volume and complexity. In order to explore and disentangle detailed behaviours hidden in the data, it is still necessary to efficiently inspect the data. The arrival of mainstream virtual reality (VR) headsets, as well as the availability of versatile development tools for video games and digital planetaria, has enabled scientists to deploy such technology to effectively interrogate and interact with complex data. Efforts are in place to e.g. develop software for cloud-based visualisation and for immersive environments such as VR and digital planetaria. This focus meeting aims to bring together experts in visualisation and the general astronomical community to foster the conversation around the various aspects of visualisation, from software development and technological requirements to common issues, as well as showcase examples of existing tools and share ideas for effective solutions.