Astronomy was one of the first professions to use computers. When Halley’s comet made its 1758 pass, astronomers divided up the computations required in order to determine its orbit. More than 150 years later, around the time that Georgia State was founded in 1913, Harvard astronomer William Pickering became the first to employ human “computers” — women paid low wages to sort and classify objects in glass-plate photographs.
Today, highly sensitive space telescopes such as NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory collect more than a terabyte (or one million million bytes) of data every day, more than any human can successfully sift through. To keep up with the data deluge, astronomers must now use complex algorithms, machine learning and immense computing power. Yet these whopping data sets are also making it possible for scientists, including researchers at Georgia State, to mine incredible new insights about life in our solar system and beyond.
Georgia State’s Second Century Initiative (2CI), the predecessor initiative to the Next Generation Program, was key to starting this innovative and exciting research effort– astroinformatics.
Read more about astroinformatics in the Fall 2018 edition of the Georgia State Research Magazine! Visit https://news.gsu.edu/research-magazine/fall2018/stargazings-new-age.
You can also read more about Stuart Jefferies, one of the key members of the astroinformatics effort, and how the 2CI program brought about invaluable faculty collaborations at https://nextgen.gsu.edu/2018/05/04/the-second-century-initiatives-return-on-investment-faculty-collaborations-stuart-jefferies/.
-Research Magazine story by Nola Taylor Redd, banner photo by Trevor Traynor
-Excerpt provided by Jeremy Craig, PR & Marketing Manager for the Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, Office of the Provost