In order to build Canadian capacity to handle the enormous data volumes and computing resources that will be required to scientifically exploit SKA data, Canadian researchers have initiated a nation-wide project called CIRADA, the Canadian Initiative for Radio Astronomy Data Analysis. When completed in 2023, CIRADA will comprise the infrastructure, computing capability, and expertise needed to convert the enormous raw data streams from next-generation telescopes into sophisticated digital products that scientists can use to make new discoveries.

CIRADA’s technical focus is to generate advanced data products for new large surveys on three radio telescopes: the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), the Karl. G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP). Astronomers in Canada and around the world can use the images and catalogues produced by CIRADA to open a unique window into catastrophic cosmic explosions, to map magnetism throughout the universe, to reveal the evolution of galaxies over billions of years, and to study the overall process by which the universe’s supply of gas is gradually converted into stars.

CIRADA comprises researchers at the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta, McGill University, Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Manitoba and the National Research Council of Canada. CIRADA also benefits from contributions by the Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in SKA partner countries South Africa and Australia, respectively, as well as from universities in the United States. This broad collaboration leverages Canada’s expertise in developing and maintaining scientific computing platforms and data archives along with contributions from key international stakeholders to position Canada to host an SKA Regional Data Centre within the network that will handle the global science processing, archive, and user support needs for the project.