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Paper: Designing Radio–Astronomical Software for Delivering Science–Ready Products
Volume: 527, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXIX
Page: 511
Authors: Offringa, A. R.
Abstract: Modern radio observatories rely heavily on advanced software pipelines to produce scientific data. Generic radio observatories such as LOFAR and the future SKA, which (will) cater to a wide variety of science projects, need multiple pipelines that produce different product types. At the core of these pipelines are reusable “building blocks”; software components that perform operations such as calibration and imaging. While this division allows for reuse, compartmentalization and clear interfaces, even these isolated blocks by themselves can be extremely big and complex. Both the pipelines and the software components are fundamentally difficult to develop, because they require a high level of domain knowledge from astronomers, deep technical knowledge about the instrument and an advanced level of software engineering to design large, complex software systems that process extremely large volumes of data. The higher the level of ‘science–readiness’ is desired, the more difficult this becomes. Nevertheless, these pipelines are of great importance, because once they are working, they prevent many scientists from having to learn all technical details that are involved in processing, giving them more time for doing their astronomical science. I will discuss these challenges, and present the lessons learned from designing several software packages and pipelines for generating advanced radio data products.
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