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July 15, 2015

The Dark Energy Survey

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14 billion-year history of cosmic expansion with high precision. More than 120 scientists from 23 institutions in the U.S., Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Germany are working on the project. This collaboration is building an extremely sensitive, 570-megapixel digital camera, DECam, and will mount it on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory high in the Chilean Andes. Starting in September 2012, and continuing for five years, DES will survey a large swath of the southern sky out to vast distances in order to provide new clues to this most fundamental of questions.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will operate a sophisticated data management pipeline for DES. DES will gather an enormous amount of data, capturing terabytes every night.

Working closely with the DES collaboration and the Illinois Department of Astronomy, NCSA has developed a system for processing, calibrating and archiving the wealth of data that will be gathered by DES. The system will use high-performance computing resources provided by the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment project.

NCSA and the University of Illinois have been involved in the DES collaboration since 2005. The data management tools have been tested through periodic data challenges, working with simulated data that has progressively become closer and closer in volume and complexity to what will be gathered when DES comes online next year.

To learn more about DES, see the story Dark Energy Project: Moving Forward in the Spring 2008 issue of NCSA Access magazine. (Date of Image: March 2008)

Credit: National Center for Supercomputer Applications

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