The Virtual Observatory (VO) is a concept under development for a system to allow transparent distributed data access across the world, allowing astronomers to discover, access, analyze, and combine astronomical data from huge heterogeneous data collections in a user-friendly manner.
In HispaTel we sumarize it in three main goals: to have data, literature and processors online and accessible via the Internet. The virtual observatory also creates a wonderful base for teaching astronomy, scientific discovery, and computational science.
The international community is building the Virtual Observatory, an organization of this worldwide data into a coherent whole that can be accessed by anyone, in any form, from anywhere. The resulting system will dramatically improve our ability to do multi spectral and temporal studies that integrate data from multiple instruments.
International activities like AVO/NVO below and Grid platforms like AstroGrid have been initiated to enable scientific exploitation across astronomical archives world wide.
1.1 NVO National Virtual Observatory http://www.us-vo.org/
NVO's objective is to enable new science by greatly enhancing access to data and
computing resources. The NVO is developing tools that make it easy to locate,
retrieve, and analyze astronomical data from archives and catalogs worldwide, and to compare theoretical models and simulations with observations. http://nvo.gsfc.nasa.gov/nvo-index.html
1.2 AVO Astrophysical Virtual Observatory http://www.euro-vo.org
The Astrophysical Virtual Observatory Project is a Phase-A, three year study for the design and implementation of a virtual observatory for European astronomy. A virtual observatory is a collection of interoperating data archives and software tools which utilize the internet to form a scientific research environment in which astronomical research programs can be conducted. In much the same way as a real observatory consists of telescopes, each with a collection of unique astronomical instruments, the VO consists of a collection of data centres each with unique collections of astronomical data, software systems and processing capabilities.
1.3 Joint Efforts http://ivoa.net
The NVO in USA, AVO in Europe and other international efforts are working together based upon international standards developed in collaboration with the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA).
The underlying platform supporting VOs is the Internet, therefore all the routers and high-speed lines connecting organizations worldwide. On top of Internet there is a set of technologies, ranging from present Web servers to innovative GRIDs. A GRID is a distributed computing infrastructure that facilitates resource-sharing and coordinated problem-solving in dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organizations. Thus, the GRID can be seen as a prototype or model for the VO.
2.1 UK AstroGrid
The aim of the UK AstroGrid project is to focus on short term deliverables, both relevant application tools and the federation, by the data centres that manage them, of key sky survey datasets, namely: (a) SuperCOSMOS, Sloan, INT-WFC, UKIRT WFCAM, XMM-Newton, Chandra, MERLIN and related VLA datasets; (b) SOHO and Yohkoh; and (c) Cluster and EISCAT. The differences between the data types involved in these federations means that each brings distinct challenges, whose solutions will shed light on generic problems to be faced by the developing global "Virtual Observatory".
Several VO prototypes and demos exist today, you can see from their hosting what university, research center or institution is working on each one, although we like to show them together as part of the common worldwide effort to build VOs.
To start with a very interesting initiative and wiki to edit the document between all parties involved. http://www.atnf.csiro.au/_Mail_Archives/ivo
NASA SkyView Virtual Observatory http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/
A complete VO infrastructure providing views from the professional astronomer to the beginer.
European Souther Observatory, with facilities in Chile, is leading the AVO efforts and counts with a huge number of initiatives to name some: NGAST http://archive.eso.org/NGAST .
ESO/ST-ECF Science Archive http://archive.eso.org
A joint work between ESO and ESA http://www.stecf.org
This portal allows data providers to describe their resources--data and services--and make them visible to VO applications. Providers may register a variety of resources, including organizations, data collections, Web Services, traditional HTTP-Get and services browser-based services, as well as the current standard services like Cone Search and Simple Image Access.
A very interesting registry and query portal using the latest XML technologies such as Xquery.
MAST (STScI Multimission Archive) http://archive.stsci.edu/
is supporting a vast set of initiatives in the VO area, including Galaxy Evolution explorer (Galex) http://galex.stsci.edu/ ,
INES (IUE Newly Extracted Spectra) purpose is to reach the maximum number of scientists and to provide IUE spectra in a form that does not require a detailed knowledge of the instrumental characteristics. INES data have been obtained through processing of the IUE Final Archive output products. The distribution system is structured in three levels: a Principal Centre (Mirrored), several National Hosts, and unlimited End Users .
Developed by the ESA IUE project at VILSPA Spain and is operated and distributed by the Laboratory for Space Astrophysics and Theoretical Physics (LAEFF) , part of the Space Science Division of INTA. http://iuearc.vilspa.esa.es
International Projects and Consortia
HispaTel is participating actively in several international consortia, in particular those under the umbrella of the EU' Framework Program VI (FP6), therefore we can name here a set of I3 consortia funded by FP6 who are working in VO concepts: RadioNet for radio astronomy http://www.radionet-eu.org/na/n5 , Opticon http://www.astro-opticon.org , and Ilias to name some.
HispaTel is building a VO registration web to show concept and present capacity , as a private company effort we are now concerned with showing a first results, future extensions will grow from the very enriching technology experiences of the prototypes above. Future plans include adding http://amanda.berkeley.edu/ to the set of traditional astronomy data.
4. URL ACCESS AND TECHNICAL DETAILS
The present development efforts at HispaTel are using Open platforms like Linux and programming languages PHP, Python and Perl. The perl-PDL module is described:
PDL - perlDL module extension for perl http://pdl.perl.org/
The perlDL project aims to turn perl into an efficient numerical language for scientific computing. The PDL module gives standard perl the ability to compactly store and speedily manipulate the large N-dimensional data sets.
When interfacing with CGI applications, there is a set of URLs where we can test the VO progress:
HispaTel, as a private company, focus on results, however we keep an open spirit and cooperate with companies, universities and organizations in the field. Among other private efforts in the area is the TERAPIX, which pipeline is optimized to process data produced by the MegaPrime CFHT prime focus unit equipped with the giant Megacam camera described in these pages.
List of software at http://www.stecf.org/software
Distribution at http://www.eso.org/science/scisoft
VO Summary by HispaTel.com : Advanced technology for Scientific Research.
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