European Space Agency fires up cloud research platform to crunch geohazards big data

Summary:Scientists will be able to analyse and share vast volumes of data on the processes behind earthquakes and volcanic activity using ESA's cloud platform.

Researchers will access tectonic data, such as Envisat's satellite views of Kenya's dormant Mount Longonot. Image: ESA

The European Space Agency has launched a cloud-based geohazards research platform through which researchers worldwide can analyse large amounts of satellite earthquake and volcanic data.

ESA's SuperSites Exploitation Platform (SSEP), which uses private cloud services company Interoute's Virtual Data Centre, gives scientists access to 13TB of geohazards data, including 50,000 radar scenes. Radar scenes are areas of interest to the ESA and may comprise multiple images.

Scientists get access to scalable on-demand processing, collaboration tools and a range of algorithms to process and share information with virtual research communities around the planet.

"This platform will provide authorised users with simple access tools to view and retrieve data from multiple archives, to place their tasking requests, to fetch data, and to report results back to data providers, which will make a larger pool of data available to scientific data users," ESA technology officer Jordi Farres said in a statement.

"The SSEP model complements the legacy model where data was shipped out and processed at a user's premises."

The SSEP's cloud toolbox offers virtual desktop resources, configured with software and licences for analysing and processing the data, according to the space agency.

The ESA's role is to carry out the European space programme for its 20 member states, conducting space research and developing satellite-based technologies and services. It has 2,000 staff and works with space organisations outside Europe.

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Topics: Cloud, Big Data, EU


Toby Wolpe is a senior reporter at ZDNet in London. He started in technology journalism when the Apple II was state of the art.

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