Advanced LIGO Operations Support

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The UK Operations program allows continued involvement in the Advanced LIGO gravitational wave detectors, and related data analysis. Continuation of this work enables UK scientists to participate in the rich and exciting science produced by the global network of gravitational wave detectors.

The proposal has three work packages (WP) as follows:
WP1 - support for LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) detector operations. This provides for continuing UK involvement in the activities of commissioning, operation, detector characterisation and data analysis for the Advanced LIGO detectors.

WP2 - support for operation of UK-provided hardware (Advanced LIGO detector components). This provides for the required on-site UK effort to prepare and optimise suspension fibres for newly installed mirrors and to weld mirrors to their suspensions, together with related on-site and off-site support. This work package also provides for optimisation and characterisation of related detector components.

WP3 - computational infrastructure and data storage. This provides for the maintenance and operation of the UK's major gravitational wave data analysis
compute resource at Cardiff. The current facility, recently upgraded, shall provide the UK share of compute resources until completion of O4 data analysis.
The richness of science from GW observation is manifest with discoveries now made at a rate of about one per week, so continued participation in computing for data analysis (DA) is critical for the UK contribution.

Planned Impact

The consortium involved in this proposal has a strong and extensive track record in working with industry, in public outreach and schoolteacher CPD, which will continue throughout and beyond the period of the request. The consortium has transferred technical knowledge and will further do so to help company competitiveness and success, all feeding back into the UK economy. The UK economy will further benefit through the spinning off of new companies arising from the research or licensing out of the technology being developed.

We anticipate research developments, spinning off from the gravitational wave work to contribute to the grand challenge areas of health and wellbeing via developments of software algorithms which can help with removal of artifacts in scanning medical imaging devices and in the development of hardware which can lead to the differentiation of a variety of stem cells with major implications for medicine. More globally, as a spin-off from the gravitational waves work at Cardiff a Data Innovation Institute has been established to conduct fundamental research into the aspects of managing, analysing and interpreting massive volumes of textual and numerical information. This will benefit projects in a wide-ranging spectrum of disciplines including social, biological, life and engineering sciences, e.g. in the biological and life sciences by extracting information from data sets without compromising privacy and confidentiality, and interpreting large data sets into reliable and understandable mathematical models.

Public outreach involving television, radio, science festivals, masterclasses and public lectures feature strongly in our present and proposed programmes and the legacy of the effort we have devoted to celebrate the international year of light - such as the development of a laser harp - fit well with the wider public outreach work we undertake in collaboration with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration on the physics of neutron stars, black holes and the Universe as a whole. Working with the Scottish government and Education Scotland members of the consortium will build on previous work contributing strongly to the curriculum for physics in Scotland by extending provision of CPD for schoolteachers in Scotland, producing videos and other material helping them to tackle the challenges introduced by the more interdisciplinary nature of the new school qualifications, and this support is very transportable to be used throughout the UK. The wide range of impact provided by the scale of our programme is excellent for the training of early career researchers and graduate students and we aim to ensure that all our young scientists have experience in these areas, enabling them to have access to a wide range of career opportunities.


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