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Chilean Economic Development Agency

ASTROdata Program Progress Report

D. Arancibia,a) M. Araya,b) A. Bayo,c) G. Cabrera,d) F. Förster,e) R. Gonzalez,f) M. Hamuy,g) J. Maureira,e) N.
Padilla,h) P. Quinn,i) J. Rada,j) G. Rodriguez,k) M. T. Ruiz,l) M. San Martin,m) C. Smith,n) M. Tarenghi,o) and
R. Williamsp)
(Dated: 9 January 2018)
The ASTROdata program is funded by the Strategic Investment Fund of the Economy Ministry, through the
Digital Transformation Agency (CTD) of the Chilean Economy Development Agency (CORFO). Its mission
is to identify and initiate measures and investments to diversify and grow Chilean economy in Big Data, using
natural advantages in Astronomy and its data-driven challenges. According to the strategy of CORFO and
its CTD, the capacity to add data-driven value will be critical for competitive edges across industries over
next decade, and a driver for diversification of the Chilean productive matrix. We worked with scientific and
industrial communities to facilitate multi-sectorial agreements about what are our opportunities to achieve
this mission. This is a progress report of the work done over the last 9 months.
Keywords: national facilities, capacity building through astronomy, productive policy, digital transformation

I. UNIVERSAL-SIZE DATA-DRIVEN CHALLENGES from hypothesis-driven to simulation-driven, so physi-

cal theories that in the past were developed using mind
From the start of observational astronomy with power, are now simulated using high-performance com-
Galileo’s patent of a 3x magnification in the early 1600s puting (HPC), generating datasets for which the chal-
until our days, astronomical observatories improved their lenges are as hard as for observational datasets.
performance by orders of magnitude. Astronomy pros-
pered using these instruments, and the understanding
of the origin and destiny of our universe developed too, II. A TSUNAMI OF DATA
enough to appreciate how limited is our ability to explain
most of what we see around us. There is much more to Next decade observatories will enable many discov-
discover. eries, but the tsunami of data originated by them will
The progress in observatories transformed the job of defy a beautiful correspondence in this field, present for
many astronomers, who used to rely on their minds, and decades, between the progress in technology and the pro-
now need a whole set of data tools to produce knowledge. duction of knowledge in Figure 1 (Tyson, 2010). If the
These astronomers won’t ever see significant fractions of international community fails to improve its capacity to
the data available but will dedicate their efforts to learn process these waves of data, discoveries might just take
from this data anyhow, for science to thrive. On the one too long, or not ever happen.
hand, data blooms from instruments on ground and sky.
On the other, data bursts from simulations. Telescopes
today produce tera-scale datasets that will grow to zetta-
scale datasets with the advent of the Large Synoptic Sur-
vey Telescope (LSST) and the Square Kilometre Array
(SKA). In parallel, theoretical astrophysics transformed

a) ASTROdata program, ED
b) Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Marı́a, Researcher
c) Universidad de Valparaı́so, AP
d) Universidad de Concepción, AP
e) Universidad de Chile, Scientist
f) Universidad Católica, Researcher FIG. 1. Data trends in optical surveys of the sky
g) Nat. Com. For Scientific & Technological Research, President
h) Universidad Católica, AP
i) International Center for Radioastronomy Research, ED
j) Nat. Council for Innovation & Development, Advisor
k) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director for Science & Technology
l) Chilean Academy of Sciences, President
m) Universidad de La Serena, AP We propose ASTROdata as the name for the tasks car-
n) Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Director
ried out by data-driven astronomers to face the challenge.
o) ASTROdata program, President
We introduce a component diagram of ASTROdata in
p) Space Telescope Science Institute, Emeritus Astronomer
Figure 2.
Chilean Economic Development Agency 2

A. Data acquisition and generation tasks this and believes no other country has a better position
to comply with them. First, we shall have a hub for
Data-driven projects demand data that come from ob- datasets acquired in Chile. Second, we shall provide cura-
servatories, curated systems or simulations. Quality as- tion and access to this data for the international commu-
sured data has to be processed enough for conversion to nity. Third, we shall establish incentives for astronomy
appropriate physical units and in consequence, to be used in our territory to focus on analytic challenges related
by projects. to its strategical advantages. According to the interna-
tional community, these advantages are the proximity to
the most important astronomical pipelines, produced by
B. Data access and curation tasks the most advanced telescopes and their people.

To use and re-use data, it has to be standardized, V. INVITATION TO COLLABORATE

stored and indexed, enabling to be searched and filtered
by either the initial data-driven project that demanded
A. Designing relationship with our territory and its people
it, or others that require it.

We seek for collaborators to develop how future invest-

C. Data analysis tasks ments in ASTROdata relate to the Chilean north An-
dean region and its people, considering the history and
Datasets obtained either from curated systems or from future of the region culture and economy. This includes
simulations or observations is analyzed (in real-time or current and native inhabitants, green mining of copper
not) to get new knowledge from it. The process does not and lithium, solar power industry, electromobility, among
end with this task, new data and insights may be ingested others.
in curated systems and eventually made available for the
use of other projects.
B. Building relationship with Big Data suppliers

D. Data exploration and visualization tasks We look for collaborators to research and develop the
products and services for the big data of the future. Our
work with industry shows ASTROdata is a great starting
In performing each of the tasks above, exploration and
point for this technology development.
visualization of the data is required.

C. Developing capacities for Big Data users

We search collaborators to prepare next generation

data professionals. Our work with industry indicates that
while data science programs pop up everywhere, hands-
on experience with petascale datasets is scarce, hence
ASTROdata is relevant for this as well.

D. Improving Chile brand through ASTROdata

Previous work shows astronomy plays a critical role

in the aspects of our country brand related with science
& technology. We search collaborators to work in these
aspects of Chile’s brand through ASTROdata.
FIG. 2. Data-driven astronomers tasks


IV. LEADERSHIP IN ASTRONOMY When will self-driving cars become mainstream? In

general, when other activities will surpass astronomy in
According to our work, Chile has the opportunity to the vanguard of big data? Our work shows that there is
lead in the field through ASTROdata. Furthermore, the a window of time of five to ten years to maximize value
international community specified capacities required for out of this opportunity.