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  1. Abstract We present a scalable, cloud-based science platform solution designed to enable next-to-the-data analyses of terabyte-scale astronomical tabular data sets. The presented platform is built on Amazon Web Services (over Kubernetes and S3 abstraction layers), utilizes Apache Spark and the Astronomy eXtensions for Spark for parallel data analysis and manipulation, and provides the familiar JupyterHub web-accessible front end for user access. We outline the architecture of the analysis platform, provide implementation details and rationale for (and against) technology choices, verify scalability through strong and weak scaling tests, and demonstrate usability through an example science analysis of data from the Zwicky Transient Facility’s 1Bn+ light-curve catalog. Furthermore, we show how this system enables an end user to iteratively build analyses (in Python) that transparently scale processing with no need for end-user interaction. The system is designed to be deployable by astronomers with moderate cloud engineering knowledge, or (ideally) IT groups. Over the past 3 yr, it has been utilized to build science platforms for the DiRAC Institute, the ZTF partnership, the LSST Solar System Science Collaboration, and the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing, as well as for numerous short-term events (with over 100 simultaneous users). In a live demomore »instance, the deployment scripts, source code, and cost calculators are accessible. 4 4 http://hub.astronomycommons.org/« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 26, 2023
  2. Abstract Trans-Neptunian objects provide a window into the history of the solar system, but they can be challenging to observe due to their distance from the Sun and relatively low brightness. Here we report the detection of 75 moving objects that we could not link to any other known objects, the faintest of which has a VR magnitude of 25.02 ± 0.93 using the Kernel-Based Moving Object Detection (KBMOD) platform. We recover an additional 24 sources with previously known orbits. We place constraints on the barycentric distance, inclination, and longitude of ascending node of these objects. The unidentified objects have a median barycentric distance of 41.28 au, placing them in the outer solar system. The observed inclination and magnitude distribution of all detected objects is consistent with previously published KBO distributions. We describe extensions to KBMOD, including a robust percentile-based lightcurve filter, an in-line graphics-processing unit filter, new coadded stamp generation, and a convolutional neural network stamp filter, which allow KBMOD to take advantage of difference images. These enhancements mark a significant improvement in the readiness of KBMOD for deployment on future big data surveys such as LSST.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 17, 2022
  3. Abstract How does STEM knowledge learned in school change students’ brains? Using fMRI, we presented photographs of real-world structures to engineering students with classroom-based knowledge and hands-on lab experience, examining how their brain activity differentiated them from their “novice” peers not pursuing engineering degrees. A data-driven MVPA and machine-learning approach revealed that neural response patterns of engineering students were convergent with each other and distinct from novices’ when considering physical forces acting on the structures. Furthermore, informational network analysis demonstrated that the distinct neural response patterns of engineering students reflected relevant concept knowledge: learned categories of mechanical structures. Information about mechanical categories was predominantly represented in bilateral anterior ventral occipitotemporal regions. Importantly, mechanical categories were not explicitly referenced in the experiment, nor does visual similarity between stimuli account for mechanical category distinctions. The results demonstrate how learning abstract STEM concepts in the classroom influences neural representations of objects in the world.
  4. The Legacy Survey of Space and Time, operated by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, is a 10-year astronomical survey due to start operations in 2022 that will image half the sky every three nights. LSST will produce ~20TB of raw data per night which will be calibrated and analyzed in almost real-time. Given the volume of LSST data, the traditional subset-download-process paradigm of data reprocessing faces significant challenges. We describe here, the first steps towards a gateway for astronomical science that would enable astronomers to analyze images and catalogs at scale. In this first step, we focus on executing the Rubin LSST Science Pipelines, a collection of image and catalog processing algorithms, on Amazon Web Services (AWS). We describe our initial impressions of the performance, scalability, and cost of deploying such a system in the cloud.
  5. Deep learning (DL) models have achieved paradigm-changing performance in many fields with high dimensional data, such as images, audio, and text. However, the black-box nature of deep neural networks is not only a barrier to adoption in applications such as medical diagnosis, where interpretability is essential, but it also impedes diagnosis of under performing models. The task of diagnosing or explaining DL models requires the computation of additional artifacts, such as activation values and gradients. These artifacts are large in volume, and their computation, storage, and querying raise significant data management challenges. In this paper, we develop a novel data sampling technique that produces approximate but accurate results for these model debugging queries. Our sampling technique utilizes the lower dimension representation learned by the DL model and focuses on model decision boundaries for the data in this lower dimensional space.
  6. Abstract Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a ground-based astronomical facility under construction, a joint project of the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, designed to conduct a multipurpose 10 yr optical survey of the Southern Hemisphere sky: the Legacy Survey of Space and Time. Significant flexibility in survey strategy remains within the constraints imposed by the core science goals of probing dark energy and dark matter, cataloging the solar system, exploring the transient optical sky, and mapping the Milky Way. The survey’s massive data throughput will be transformational for many other astrophysics domains and Rubin’s data access policy sets the stage for a huge community of potential users. To ensure that the survey science potential is maximized while serving as broad a community as possible, Rubin Observatory has involved the scientific community at large in the process of setting and refining the details of the observing strategy. The motivation, history, and decision-making process of this strategy optimization are detailed in this paper, giving context to the science-driven proposals and recommendations for the survey strategy included in this Focus Issue.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 22, 2022
  7. Abstract

    Mental models provide a cognitive framework allowing for spatially organizing information while reasoning about the world. However, transitive reasoning studies often rely on perception of stimuli that contain visible spatial features, allowing the possibility that associated neural representations are specific to inherently spatial content. Here, we test the hypothesis that neural representations of mental models generated through transitive reasoning rely on a frontoparietal network irrespective of the spatial nature of the stimulus content. Content within three models ranges from expressly visuospatial to abstract. All mental models participants generated were based on inferred relationships never directly observed. Here, using multivariate representational similarity analysis, we show that patterns representative of mental models were revealed in both superior parietal lobule and anterior prefrontal cortex and converged across stimulus types. These results support the conclusion that, independent of content, transitive reasoning using mental models relies on neural mechanisms associated with spatial cognition.