Customizable Virtual Operating Environments Enable CALET Science Advances

How the speed of data processing and freedom for environment customization on ADAPT’s virtual machines allowed for more precise measurement of cosmic-ray fluxes with the CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) onboard the International Space Station.
Project Goal:
Dr. Yosui Akaike, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland Baltimore County, led research measuring cosmic-ray fluxes with the CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) that is operating on the International Space Station. These measurements allow scientists to investigate the origin and propagation of cosmic rays in our galaxy. Dr. Akaike's goal was to run as many cosmic-ray events as possible in a simulated space environment, thereby perfecting the ability of CALET to measure these fluxes in space.

The CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) extends off the left edge of the International Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Photo by Expedition 55 crew.

Dr. Akaike and the CALET Collaboration team needed a system that could subject their detector to a multitude of cosmic-ray events which induce huge and complicated hadron cascade shower particles in the detector. Relying on their own resources would have limited testing due to time and computing constraints.
Partnering with the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) gave the team access to the Advanced Data Analytics Platform (ADAPT), a computing system ideal for large-scale, intrinsically parallel processing jobs. After obtaining cosmic ray data from CALET, spanning October 2015 through March 2017, the researchers ran Monte Carlo (MC) simulations on ADAPT to estimate the response function and the efficiency of each analysis procedure.

Dr. Akaike and the CALET team produced a vast amount of cosmic-ray events with the particle charge of Z=1~40 (electrons, positrons, proton, and heavier nuclei) in wide energy range from 1 GeV to 1 PeV to duplicate the space environment on the ISS, running the simulations across multiple virtual machines (VMs), which processed the data and ran simultaneous test.

Computing System:
ADAPT is a computing system at the NCCS that combines high performance computing and virtualization technologies to create an on-site private cloud. Its customizable operating environments enable researchers to process and analyze large datasets using the analytics solution of their choice. ADAPT also houses multiple data repositories that can be accessed for research.
Value Added:
This method of parallel processing on ADAPT allowed Dr. Akaike and his team to focus on perfecting CALET measurements. “CALET’s MC simulation is very computationally intensive due to the high energy range,” said Dr. Yosui Akaike. “ADAPT [was] essential for us to carry out precise measurements of cosmic rays.” With assistance from ADAPT, Dr. Akaike and the CALET team had access to a customizable environment that could be configured to exact requirements and duplicated on multiple VMs, allowing the team to achieve results in a shorter period. In turn, this environment allowed the team to expand their research scope, process more calculations to support the mission, and obtain science results in a much shorter time.