File photo: Data collected throughout 50 plus years at the Arecibo Observatory is being safely transferred to the cloud.

UCF, Leading Research Institutions Receive HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award

By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala on

Today, a broad coalition of collaborators including UCF received the HPCwire Readers’ Choice award for Best High Performance Computing (HPC) Collaboration across academia, government, and industry. UCF was recognized at the 2021 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis alongside partners Arecibo Observatory, the NSF Cyberinfrastructure the Center of Excellence Pilot (CICoE), the Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC), Globus at the University of Chicago, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

The conference, one of the largest HPC meetings in the world, runs through Nov. 19 in St. Louis. HPC cuts across academia and the business world providing new ways to harness data and accelerate research and improve lives. The team was recognized for its efforts to ensure that decades worth of raw data was preserved after the collapse of the Arecibo telescope in December 2020.

Within weeks of the incident, the collaborators convened to transfer petabytes of irreplaceable observation data to a safe place in proximity to capability-class computing to foster analysis. These data represent over 50 years of astronomical observations from the telescope, which has been critical to several astronomical discoveries.

The collaborators worked with UCF, which has led the consortium that manages the Arecibo Observatory, for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) which owns the federal facility. Together the collaborators planned and began moving data to TACC’s Ranch system. About half of the data has migrated.

“Working with partners who are passionate about scientific discovery, we can accomplish incredible things,” says Shafaq Chaudhry, assistant director for Graduate & Research IT Systems and Operations. “This collaboration is a fantastic example of cross-institutional, national and industry partnership.”

Julio Alvarado Negron who worked with Chaudhry and led efforts at Arecibo, says about half of the data has migrated so far.

“Working in this project showcased the power of the people network,” Negron says. “From the moment we sent our SOS message to UCF right after the collapse, the teams got together in no time with a single goal: preserve the Arecibo legacy.”

The EPOC team provided the infrastructure skills and resources that were needed, and the CICoE Pilot team helped evaluate the data storage solutions and designed the future data management and stewardship experience to make Arecibo’s data easily accessible for further scientific research and discovery. Globus provided the managed transfer service to move terabytes of data daily, while carefully monitoring the transfers to ensure that no data was lost. The data migration was executed in coordination with Arecibo’s IT department, which is managed by UCF.

“The Arecibo Observatory continues to be a rich resource for researchers around the world,” says Francisco Cordova, the director of the facility. “Much raw data has yet to be viewed and there are likely new discoveries in the petabytes of information. The work among these partners ensures that scientists will have access to Arecibo’s irreplicable data for generations to come.”

And that’s why the group was honored with the HPCwire recognition.

“This group of collaborators spanning across academia, government and industry, preserved decades of priceless data, and will enable us to achieve many new and exciting scientific discoveries,” says Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications and publisher of HPCwire. “Our readers understand the significance of this accomplishment, and we are proud to present this award to this esteemed group of research institutions.”

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