Winter 2022 AusSRC update

A yellow lightning bolt formed from smaller yellow triangles, with a teal blue border also formed from triangles, on a deep blue background.

Birli is the Wajarri word for lightning and is also the name of new pre-processing software for the MWA.

There’s a long way to go before the AusSRC is connecting data from the SKA to the rest of the world, but for now, an exciting development for the AusSRC is that Birli, the next generation MWA pre-processing pipeline is feature complete.

Pre-processing data is an important part of any SKA precursor telescope pipeline, as it removes imprints from the telescope itself, as well as its radio environment, allowing for high accuracy radio images and other astronomy data products to be made.

For a lot of MWA users, pre-processed data is helpfully tucked away by the MWA All-Sky Virtual Observatory (MWA ASVO) frontend user interface – but if you take a look under the hood, this is where Birli comes in.

Birli is the Wajarri word for ‘lightning’, a common cause of outages on the MWA site. ‘Lightning’ is also great descriptor for Birli’s performance because it is lightning fast compared to its predecessors. Before Birli was created, pre-processing for the MWA was handled by software called Cotter, twice as slowly as Birli’s capabilities!

Birli was added as a processing option in the MWA ASVO back in February of this year, and already around half of the MWA’s data is being pre-processed daily by Birli, with the other half done by Cotter. While Birli is currently exceeding performance expectations at lightning speeds, the future for the project will be around finding further avenues for improvement.

Interested in a deep dive into Birli? More info can be found online.

Dev Null, Software Research Engineer, AusSRC

Home institution: Curtin University/ICRAR