Questions for Users of Astronomical facilities
The Square Kilometre Array will be one of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes and enable transformational science across a wide range of research areas. By the same token, the large scale, rate, and complexity of data the SKA will generate present challenges in data management, computing, and networking that are similarly world-leading. Based on current projections, the SKA Observatory, once operational, is expected to produce an archive of standard data products with a growth rate on the order of 300 petabytes per year. Although the challenges associated with populating and maintaining the SKA science archive are already impressive, these data products actually represent only the first part of the full science extraction chain. Any further processing and subsequent science extraction by users will require significant, additional computing and storage resources.

As part of its H2020 program, The European Commission has established the AENEAS project to develop a design for the large-scale analysis infrastructure astronomers will need to extract scientific results from SKA data. This infrastructure is currently envisioned to be organized in the form of a global network of SKA Regional Centres. The ultimate ambition is to open the ability to access and use SKA data products to the widest range of researchers, beyond just experts and traditional radio astronomers. Input from the international astronomical community will be a crucial part of developing the requirements and design for these Regional Centres.

With this survey, we are soliciting your help in gathering these inputs. In the following questions, we would like to understand the ways in which you currently interact with your astronomy data and how you see these changing in the future. We will use this information to guide our recommendations for the design of a European SKA Regional Centre. All responses will be kept strictly confidential. If you are wiling to potentially be contacted for followup questions, please indicate this fact by providing your contact information below.

Please indicate whether you work at a European or non-European institute *
Contact details (optional): If you are happy for us to get in touch with you about this survey, please give contact details here. These will not be shared outside the AENEAS project.
Your answer
Select your main areas of scientific interest *
Required
Are you interested in taking part in a future SKA Key Science Project? *
Which kind of data do you typically handle to extract the information you need? (you may select more than one) *
Required
List at most 5 astronomy facilities for which you consider yourself a user (1st=most used, 5th=less used) *
Your answer
What is the typical size of the data you handle? *
<1GB
1 - 10GB
10 - 100GB
100GB - 1TB
>1TB
Single dataset
Complete project
Which software do you most commonly use? *
CASA
MIRIAD
VO
AIPS
IDL
SciPy
ds9
other
Data editing/calibration
Data visualization
Data analysis
How do you typically interact with the facilities listed above?
Which computing facility do you typically use for different types of work? *
Stand-alone desktop/workstation
Cluster locally provided in your institute
HPC (Supercomputing center)
Public Cloud (e.g. Google, Amazon)
Private Cloud
Data analysis
Data processing (Data reduction)
Data Visualization
Simulation and modelling
How do you access to the aforementioned computing resources (e.g. institute account, competitive calls for computing hours or specific grant agreement of your institution)?
Your answer
What is your preferred way of training...
schools
workshops
self-taught using documentation and software available
community mailing lists
helpdesk
to prepare proposals?
for data processing?
How do you typically get help from facility experts
visit to the facility
winter/summer schools
workshops
community mailing lists
helpdesk
Social networks
email
during proposal preparation stages
during data processing/analysis stages
Indicate the importance of the following interaction with the facilities (1=necessary, 5=unimportant)
1
2
3
4
5
Community events (workshop, tutorials, lectures...)
Helpdesk for proposal preparation
Monitoring system for project status
Access to the archive
Access to the archive through VO tools
Computing resources available at the facility
Software repository for advanced processing
Expert staff for support in data processing
Evaluate the level of support from a facility expert you usually need for each stage of a project (1=none, 5=fully performed by the expert)
1
2
3
4
5
Proposal preparation
Archive mining
Data calibration
Data imaging
Production of advanced results
Rate the user interaction model you currently use for data visualisation (1=very good, 5=poor)
1
2
3
4
5
Command line tools
Desktop GUIs
Web Applications
Others ...
Rate the user interaction model you currently use for data editing-calibration (1=very good, 5=poor)
1
2
3
4
5
Command line tools
Desktop GUIs
Web Applications
Others ...
Rate the user interaction model you currently use for data analysis (1=very good, 5=poor)
1
2
3
4
5
Command line tools
Desktop GUIs
Web Applications
Others ...
Rate what would you like to find in an archive (1=necessary, 5=useless)
1
2
3
4
5
Raw data
Fully calibrated data
Continuum images
Continuum subtracted line cubes
Line cubes at native resolution
Line cubes at PI requested resolution
Calibration scripts
Imaging scripts
Advanced plots (e.g. spectra, cube momenta ...)
Extracted values (e.g. flux densities, resolution, sensitivities...)
Data processing history
Data quality assessment figures
Postage stamps
server side services to produce derived products providing some parameters.
server side services for visualization.
Science Gateways or Virtual Research Environments
repository of workflows/experiments that can be executed/shared/reused/referenced
computing resources to run a experiment
specific libraries/scripts to process and analyse the data from the facility
example code to process/analyse/plot data products
Which services that require authentication are you using in your daily research activities and what interface do you use to access those services?
Are you using the same authentication credentials to access different services offered by your institution or to access services offered by different providers ?
Is your institute offering a federated authentication system?
What are the requirements for the authentication technologies to be used in your research activities?
If you are an SKA precursor user, rank the difference with respect to other radio facilities that you felt as a difficulty (1= most difficult to face, 5=easy, 0=not exploited)
0
1
2
3
4
5
Data size
Data processing software
Data processing
Data storage
Archive mining
Online documentation availability
lack of automatization to locate and download the data
latency of data transfer
dealing with heterogeneous infrastructures
In your opinion, what might have improved your experience with SKA precursors?
Your answer
Please feel free to add any other comments based on your experiences that are relevant to future users of SKA (optional).
Your answer
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