Yesterday, Astronomy Australia Limited's (AAL) Astronomy e-Research Advisory Committee (AeRAC) , met to discuss the astronomy community's computing needs, and to review and recommend currently funded infrastructure projects. This was our second meeting for the year.
Meetings tend to be quite long, often 2–3 hours each, but with so much to get through, time always seems to pass more quickly than it ought to. Given the upcoming Federal budget announcements, it's perhaps not surprising that a lot of discussion was centred around the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), and what that might look like i for the 2017/2018 year. As well as AAL, most of the high performance computing and cloud infrastructure for research, such as NeCTAR, NCI, Pawsey, and ANDS are also funded through NCRIS. So the potential loss of funding, or access to services is something the community (and AAL and AeRAC in particular,) needs to prepare for.
We also discussed the new Astronomy Data & Computing Services (ADACS) initiative, which launched earlier this year. Contract negotiations are complete with most of the new staff embedded at Swinburne and Curtain University. So far everything seems to be running pretty smoothly. ADACS has taken just over a year to get off the ground, from initial inception to launch and I think it's going to do a really great job of serving the community. I've been pushing for something like ADACS (or something more ambitious) for the past few years, so I really pleased to see it finally have a presence.
It's always really nice to hear where the All-Sky Virtual Observatory (ASVO) projects are at, especially since I'm not really involved in any of them. I've previously sat on ASVO–TAO selection panels and it was one of the projects I kept a close eye on when I worked at Swinburne Research but I was never directly involved in the projects. The other projects are ASVO–SkyMapper, ASVO–AAT, and ASVO–MWA.