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The development of parallel-processing image-analysis codes is generally a challenging task that requires complicated choreography of interprocessor communications. If, however, the image-analysis algorithm is embarrassingly parallel, then the development of a parallel-processing implementation of that algorithm can be a much easier task to accomplish because, by definition, there is little need for communication between the compute processes. I describe the design, implementation, and performance of a parallel-processing image-analysis application, called CRBLASTER, which does cosmic-ray rejection of CCD (charge-coupled device) images using the embarrassingly-parallel L.A.COSMIC algorithm. CRBLASTER is written in C using the high-performance computing industry standard Message Passing Interface (MPI) library. The code has been designed to be used by research scientists who are familiar with C as a parallel-processing computational framework that enables the easy development of parallel-processing image-analysis programs based on embarrassingly-parallel algorithms. The CRBLASTER source code is freely available at the official application website at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Removing cosmic rays from a single 800x800 pixel Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 image takes 44 seconds with the IRAF script lacos_im.cl running on a single core of an Apple Mac Pro computer with two 2.8-GHz quad-core Intel Xeon processors. CRBLASTER is 7.4 times faster processing the same image on a single core on the same machine. Processing the same image with CRBLASTER simultaneously on all 8 cores of the same machine takes 0.875 seconds -- which is a speedup factor of 50.3 times faster than the IRAF script. A detailed analysis is presented of the performance of CRBLASTER using between 1 and 57 processors on a low-power Tilera 700-MHz 64-core TILE64 processor.
The PEC (Period Error Calculator) algorithm estimates the period error for eclipsing binaries observed by the Kepler Mission. The algorithm is based on propagation of error theory and assumes that observation of every light curve peak/minimum in a long time-series observation can be unambiguously identified. A simple C implementation of the PEC algorithm is available.
A discrete Point Spread Function (PSF) is a sampled version of a continuous two-dimensional PSF. The shape information about the photon scattering pattern of a discrete PSF is typically encoded using a numerical table (matrix) or a FITS image file. MATPHOT shifts discrete PSFs within an observational model using a 21-pixel- wide damped sinc function and position partial derivatives are computed using a five-point numerical differentiation formula. MATPHOT achieves accurate and precise stellar photometry and astrometry of undersampled CCD observations by using supersampled discrete PSFs that are sampled two, three, or more times more finely than the observational data.
QDPHOT is a fast CCD stellar photometry task which quickly produces CCD stellar photometry from two CCD images of a star field. It was designed to be a data mining tool for finding high-quality stellar observations in the data archives of the National Virtual Observatory. QDPHOT typically takes just a few seconds to analyze two Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 observations of Local Group star clusters. It is also suitable for real-time data-quality analysis of CCD observations; on-the-fly instrumental color-magnitude diagrams can be produced at the telescope console during the few seconds between CCD readouts.
Since early 2018, the Kepler/K2 project has been performing a uniform global reprocessing of data from K2 Campaigns 0 through 14. Subsequent K2 campaigns (C15-C19) are being processed using the same processing pipeline. One of the major benefits of the reprocessing effort is that, for the first time, short-cadence (1-min) light curves are produced in addition to the standard long-cadence (30-min) light curves. Users have been cautioned that the Kepler pipeline detrending module (PDC), developed for use on original Kepler data, has not been tailored for use on short-cadence K2 observations. Systematics due to events on fast timescales, such as thruster firings, are sometimes poorly corrected for many short-cadence targets. A Python data visualization and manipulation tool, called Kepler-K2 Cadence Events, has been developed that identifies and removes cadences associated with problematic thruster events, thus producing better light curves. Kepler-K2 Cadence Events can be used to visualize and manipulate light curve files and target pixel files from the Kepler, K2, and TESS missions. This software is available at the following NASA GitHub repository https://github.com/nasa/K2CE .