The Galactic RainCloudS project, led by the University of Barcelona and with the participation of the private sector by the hand of Pervasive Technologies, Google Cloud and Telefónica, was awarded the first position in the European project OCRE “Cloud Funding for Research”.

       Galactic RainCloudS is a pioneer initiative in Europe in the use of Computational Infrastructures on the Cloud for research on astronomy, aimed at showing the benefits of the use of resources on the cloud for the scientific community.

        The combination of the extraordinary volume of data from the Gaia Satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) with the increasing computational power and flexibility of cloud infrastructures and data mining techniques, will allow researchers at the UB to study the existing links between past galaxy collisions and star formation in a holistic way, using the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies as a giant experimental laboratory.



Barcelona, fourth of May of 2022.      The Galactic RainCloudS project, led by members of the Faculty of Physics, the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB) and the Institute for Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), was awarded the first position in the framework of the Cloud Funding for Research call of the European project Open Clouds For Research Environments (OCRE).

The project competed against 27 other proposals from twelve countries and in a wide range of research disciplines. This first edition of “Cloud Funding For Research” will fund the use of commercial computational cloud resources for research. The project counts with the collaboration of the private sector by the hand of Pervasive Technologies, who are bringing their expertise on artificial intelligence and cloud computation to the table, Google Cloud, that is providing the gCloud computational infrastructure and Telefónica, who will contribute to the project with their expertise on cloud resources management. Xavier Luri, director of the ICCUB and primary investigator of the project, remarks: “the Galactic RainCloudS project is pioneer in Europe on the use of Cloud Computational Infrastructures for research in astronomy, and it has been conceived with the objective of proving the advantages of the use of cloud resources for the scientific community”.

The key to the project lies in its interdisciplinary nature: the combination of the huge volumes of data from the Gaia Satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) with the increasing computational power and flexibility of cloud infrastructures and data mining techniques, will allow researchers at the University of Barcelona to study the existing links between past galaxy collisions and stellar formation in a holistic way, using the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies as a giant experimental laboratory. “Cloud computing is like renting a series of powerful computers that are tailored to your specific necessities for a certain period of time which will allow us to perform all the necessary calculations to study the interaction among galaxies”, says Mercè Romero, ICCUB-IEEC researcher.

The project also includes the development of a system to detect traces of past collisions of small galaxies with the halo of our Galaxy. In the words of Teresa Antoja, a ICCUB-IEEC researcher, “the existence of granularities in the galactic halos is predicted by the current cosmological model of the formation of our Universe. The active search of these kinds of substructures among the Gaia data can provide crucial information about the history of the Milky Way, even about the nature of Dark Matter”.

The participation of the private sector in the project shows the affinity between research and industry in the use of cutting-edge technologies and their shared interests, “in Pervasive Technologies we are very happy to share our knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computation in this project that is pioneer in the research world. We will strive to obtain the best outputs from the Cloud infrastructures and Artificial Intelligence in this project”, says Rodolfo Lomascolo, CEO of Pervasive Technologies.

In order to be successful, the Galactic RainCloudS project must have, among other features, big data infrastructures. Roger Mor, a ML Data Scientist at Pervasive Technologies and external collaborator of the ICCUB, mentions that “the Gaia satellite data hide the keys to many of the questions that we want to answer. However, we need the proper tools to be able to retrieve them. The Big Data platforms available on commercial Cloud services and Artificial Intelligence will be key assets to discern, for instance, if the interaction between Sagittarius and the Milky Way was the cause of the reigniting of star formation in our Galaxy between 5.000 and 7.000 years ago, as it is pointed by some studies”.

“Telefónica has accompanied the University of Barcelona in the definition and deployment of the Google Cloud architecture, where the required hypercomputation solution to tackle the project will be hosted. The deployed infrastructure will allow massive data processing and analysis in a way that is flexible, scalable and tailored to the specific necessities of the researchers of the University of Barcelona. Telefónica will remain beside the UB throughout the process to guarantee the success of the implementation with teams specialized in Google Cloud services and technologies”, explains Enrique González Lezana, Head of Cloud Sales Specialist at Telefónica Tech.

The project has kicked-off this month of May, and it will last for a year, “the Galactic RainCloudS project is a necessary step in the transition of the research world toward the use of efficient computational Cloud resources. In this sense, we are pioneers in their adoption at the University of Barcelona and we hope that our experience will foster their usage. The research teams needs are getting more specific every day, so we want to focus all of our efforts to make this project open the doors to commercial Cloud computation for many other future projects in all research fields”, concludes Xavier Luri.





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 About the Institute of Cosmos Sciences
The Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB) is a research institute belonging to the University of Barcelona, created on 2006 and awarded with the Excellence Accreditation María de Maeztu on 2015. It is one of the four units forming the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). The centre is dedicated to fundamental research in the fields of cosmology and particle physics, as well as technological applications of the cosmos sciences in general. Most of its members are professors and researchers of the Department of Quantum Physics and Astrophysics of the Physics Faculty, and it counts with ten ICREA researchers. Currently, it has three European Research Council grants and it participates in thirteen European projects. Among its performance indicators for the 2014-2017 time period, one can highlight the publication of 1.062 articles in indexed journals, 86,35% of which belong to the first quartile. Regarding knowledge transfer, it has generated two patents and two spin-offs. 

About the University of Barcelona

The University of Barcelona is the main public university of Catalonia and one of the most prestigious higher-education institutions in all the state. The UB, founded in 1450, is the only Spanish university to be part of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), an association that gathers the 23 most important university research centres in the continent. The UB ranks among the 100 best universities in the world, according to the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR). On 2016, The Times Higher Education included the UB among the 25 best universities with more than 400 years of history. The University of Barcelona offers a varied educational offer, which comprehends 48 doctorate programmes, 151 official university master’s degrees and 74 bachelor’s degrees. It has more than 44.000 students, 15% of which come from 122 different countries. The University of Barcelona values academic excellence as it has a strong commitment to provide the future generations of citizens with the ability to work at the highest level anywhere in the world.



 About Pervasive Technologies


 Pervasive Technologies is a company specialised in the development of smart solutions for a diverse range of sectors, such as industry, retail or manufacturing, by using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning. We develop image and video recognition solutions that allow companies to classify, localize and detect information, improving the safety and efficiency of businesses and industries with the automation brought by AI. This way, we help companies tackle their challenging and complex evolutions. In Pervasive Technologies, we are partners with Google, NVIDIA, ADLINK Technology and Arrow Electronics.