XENON has delivered high performance computing and storage to the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales for the Breakthrough Listen project, lead by engineers and scientists from the University of California Berkeley SETI Research Center working alongside CSIRO’s ATNF (Australia Telescope National Facility). Since 2015 Breakthrough Listen, supported by Stephen Hawking and a $100 million grant from Yuri Milner, has been monitoring billions of interstellar radio frequencies in search of extra-terrestrial life. The Southern Hemisphere location of Parkes provides a unique perspective for observing the Milky Way’s galactic plane as well as the Alpha Centauri star system which includes Proxima Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbour and its recently discovered planet Proxima Centauri b.
The XENON servers along with a fully redundant storage system are processing vast amounts of observation data from the Parkes radio telescope via a 10 Gigabit Ethernet link. Each server receives up to 9.6 Gb/s of data which is locally stored prior to GPU processing for spectral analysis. Upon completing an observation, the resulting data is then sent off-site for long-term storage freeing up the servers and storage nodes for another observation.
ABC Catalyst will be airing this exciting search for extra-solar civilisations on Tuesday 12th September 2017 @ 8pm.*
Watch this background video about the Breakthrough Listen project.