Last week we finalised Swinburne's MyTardis installations and dealt with a few remaining tasks. Hopefully we'll have production systems up and running before Christmas. Although we don't use the actual blue Police Box the concept is, not surprisingly, similar. MyTardis was developed for microscopy researchers at the Monash University eResearch Centre to solve the long-standing technical challenge of securely storing and sharing large research datasets using an online system. By integrating seamlessly with individual scientific instruments and laboratory or university research storage, My Tardis enables researchers to store, archive, and access data efficiently and most importantly without hassle.
As part of the Swinburne Metadata Stores Project, customised MyTardis installations were developed for researchers at the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre (BPsyC), and the Centre for Atom Optics and Ultrafast Spectroscopy (CAOUS) – the centre has since been renamed as the Centre for Quantum and Optical Science (CQOS). This project was a collaboration between our team in Swinburne Research and the Victorian eResearch Strategic Initiative (VeRSI).
For BPsyC researchers, a MyTardis pilot system was developed specifically for the Elekta TRIUX MEG instrument. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a safe, non-invasive human brain imaging technique. The MEG scanner measures the very small magnetic fields produced by the active brain using external sensors configured as a hemispherical grid that covers the head. Applications of MEG include basic research into perceptual and cognitive brain processes, localising regions affected by pathology before surgical removal, and determining the function of various parts of the brain. Very cool. The customised My Tardis system captures images/data from the instrument's staging area (an institutional research data storage facility) via an Atom feed, creates tabled metadata (technical/scientific metadata) using customised metadata filters, and produces thumbnails and diagnostic plots that researchers can view to quickly identify useful data.
For CAOUS, a pre-configured MyTardis system developed specifically for microscopy data provides and storage of data and tabled metadata from the Olympus IX81 Confocal Microscope.Basic data capture and storage was also set up for the Renishaw In Via Raman Spectrometer and Bruker Contour GT-K1 Optical Surface Profiler.
In future (and with a little more TLC!) we hope that the systems will mature, and become more widely used by researchers as part of their day-to-day activities. So far Monash University, RMIT, the University of Sydney, and the University of Queensland have implemented versions of MyTardis as an institutional data management solution. The Australian Synchrotron deployment has captured over 20 terabytes and 10,000 datasets!, archiving and providing data access and sharing tools to its community of thousands. Monash have used the system to make astronomy datasets publicly available. Although the metadata description implementation is a little clunky, it's a great example of what My Tardis is capable of and demonstrates the value of a data archiving system that provides separate instrument parameters and thumbnail images. Astronomy imaging data naturally fits into this type of system by virtue of its FITS header format. Below is a screenshot of Atlas of Galaxy Spectral Energy Distributions From The UV to the Mid-Infrared (Principal Investigator: A/Prof. Michael Brown, Monash University)