NYU Abu Dhabi to Host Crucial Scientific Data From Space Observatories

Ease of access to data will significantly boost UAE space science research

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is hosting crucial scientific data collected by space observatories. The National Data Center (NDC) at NYUAD will be the first location in the UAE that will acquire, archive, and process selected scientific data sets from space missions. The NDC will host observations from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Kepler space mission that are essential to performing research in solar and stellar physics. These data have now been made publicly available by NASA as a matter of its policy, but infrastructure in the UAE is needed to analyze the data locally.

In addition, the National Data Center will build relevant capacity for facilitating pre-launch studies associated with the Emirati Mars Mission (launch 2020), Solar Orbiter (launch 2019), and TESS (launch 2018). An important, long-term goal is to prepare for the PLATO mission, which was adopted by the European Space Agency in June 2017 and will be launched in 2026.

PLATO will have 26 telescopes on board to search large areas of the sky for habitable exoplanets – Earth-like planets that exist beyond our solar system. The goal is to scout for exoplanets that orbit around sun-like stars at a safe distance enabling water to exist on the surface of these planets; an indication that they could possibly host life.

The PLATO observations will be made available by the European Space Agency to various data centers on Earth, including now in the UAE, to aid scientists studying the possibility there’s another planet out there like ours.

Shravan Hanasoge, co-principal investigator at the NYUAD Center for Space Science explains, “Space science cannot proceed forward without high-quality measurements. The data taken by billion-dollar space-based observatories can be used to make important scientific contributions. We hope that the ease of access to this data in the UAE will significantly boost space science research in the region.”

Space data is usually publicly available online but requires heavy infrastructure and computing power to be accessed and analyzed remotely. A local repository at NYUAD will make it easier to access datasets that can sometimes be several terabytes in size. The Center for Space Science also plans to hold periodic workshops for users interested in learning how to access and use the database. The presence of local experts will make it possible to handle special download requests such as unusual combinations or exhaustive copies.

Work on the National Data Center will begin in 2018 and researchers at NYUAD are looking to collaborate with other institutions in the UAE to facilitate widespread user access to the database.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.