Astronomy and big data: TSU will train a new type of physicists

TSU Faculty of Physics has changed the training program for astronomers. Now, young specialists will study not only classical astronomy but also big data analysis technologies, which will enable them to join the advanced TSU research on space security and the study of satellite motion in near-Earth space. Students will receive two specialties - astronomy and information technology.

The new educational module will be implemented in the Laboratory of the Computer Simulation and Machine Analysis of Astronomical Data. The laboratory collaborated with the Terskol Observatory Collective Use Center, which is located in the Elbrus region, at the peak of Terskol. The tasks of the laboratory staff include monitoring asteroids, artificial Earth satellites, and space debris, and numerical simulation of the motion of these celestial bodies.

- Modern astronomy is developing toward automation and informatization. An astronomer is no longer that cranky romantic at the telescope, but a specialist who knows numerical methods and programming languages and masterfully handles modern technology. A new module of the undergraduate program is aimed at training such complex specialists. Our students will work on the SKIF Cyberia supercomputer and modern geodetic equipment. The best students will be able to practice directly at the Terskol Observatory, - explains Tatyana Galushina, head of the laboratory.

In the first two courses, the Faculty of Physics students receive fundamental mathematical and physical education. In the third year at the Department of Astronomy and Space Geodesy, they begin to study astrometry, celestial mechanics, and astronomical databases and modern programming languages (C ++, Python, and others) as well as the basics of machine learning. Graduates can stay at TSU to continue scientific research, get a job at JSC Academician M.F. Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems, or consider many other options.

- In modern astronomy, two types of big data can be distinguished — the results of observations and the results of numerical simulations,- says Tatyana Galushina about the problems that are solved at TSU. - For example, to assess the probability of an asteroid collision with the Earth, you have to study the evolution of a large number of model asteroids, processing hundreds of gigabytes of numerical data.

Another example of a problem requiring analysis of big data is the structure of near-Earth outer space, to identify areas of stable and unstable satellite motion.

The new educational module will be available for astronomy students this coming academic year.