Project Overview

The V-FASTR project is an attempt to positively identify and classify what are known as fast radio transient events. These short-lived bursts of radio energy are emitted both by mundane sources here on Earth (say, a garage door opener pulsing) and exotic sources out in the universe (say, the annihilation of a black hole). Properly classifying these potentially fascinating events is important to better understanding their true nature. V-FASTR collects its data passively by piggybacking on top of ongoing experiments utilizing the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) instrument. The collected data is far too massive to keep in whole for very long, and thus reviews of candidate events need to be conducted daily to avoid a backlog exceeding storage capacity.

How I Contributed

The V-FASTR science team wanted a way to collaboratively review events that had been flagged as interesting by the automated filters. Reviewers needed to see imagery for each candidate event alongside salient metadata annotations. After working with the science team, I constructed a metadata model that described the domain, and developed a web application that allowed for a shared view of recent events, as well as provided customized views of an individual reviewer’s assigned workload. I went through several iterations with members of the science team to streamline the review process (e.g.: minimizing mouse clicks, and prioritizing certain metadata fields).