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Exploring new astronomical database technologies — a collaborative workshop between LJMU and Thailand 26 April 2018
Group shot
The ARI-NARIT joint development team. Left to right: Bovornpratch Vijarnwannaluk, Pathompong Butpan, Utane Sawangwit, Marco Lam, Andrzej Piascik, Chris Copperwheat, Robert Smith, Iain Steele.

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) recently hosted a 3-week Newton Fund collaboration workshop with the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT). LJMU and NARIT both own and operate their own 2-metre class telescopes: LJMU's Liverpool Telescope, and NARIT's Thai National Observatory.

Both institutes developed a common interest in exploiting new technologies for data management and archiving. These new systems will be used for their existing telescope facilities, and also for LJMU's proposed 4-metre class New Robotic Telescope (commonly known as "Liverpool Telescope 2"), on which NARIT is collaborating.

The joint development team compared the feasibility of using PostgreSQL (PSQL) and Elasticsearch (ES) as the core engine of a new archive system for astronomical data. LJMU developers Dr Marco Lam and Dr Andrzej Piascik worked with Bovornpratch Vijarnwannaluk and Pathompong Butpan from NARIT, to compare the efficiency of an ES search engine to that of a conventional relational database.

In the final week, Dr Utane Sawangwit from NARIT also joined us to conclude the project. This entailed the production of a complete prototype web front end for the demonstrator archives. A poster paper describing the work was presented in the Software Session of the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science 2018. A joint research paper will also be presented at the June SPIE 2018 Astronomical Telescopes conference in Austin, Texas.