IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (FM19)

Weds May 17 2006 @ 12.30-14.30 Local Time (Victoria, Canada)



  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  2. Minutes of TM18
  3. Review of Actions
  4. Status on Participation of Brazilian VO (continued)
  5. Review the proposed charter of the Semantics WG
  6. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s)
  7. Status of Implementation of IVOA standards in Data Centers
  8. IAU in Prague : status report
  9. IVOA demonstration stand during the IAU GA in Prague
  10. Autumn Interoperability meeting in Moscow
  11. AOB
    • Summary of this meeting
    • Date and Venue of the next exec meeting (telecon ?)
    • Future InterOp meetings after 2007 Spring
  12. Summary of Actions

Reports from the Projects


The Armenian VO continued its development on the collaboration between its team based in the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) and the Institute of Problems of Informatics and Automation (IPIA) of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. The IPIA has a powerful Armcluster computer, where a number of large scientific projects are being carried out. This cluster presently consists of 64 Intel Xeon 3.06 GHz processors and works under Linux Red Hat 9.0 OS. IPIA allocates software experts for joint work with the Byurakan team members (all are astronomers). There are plans to create a joint group between the two institutions (BAO and IPIA). The tasks that will run on the Armcluster are: cross-correlations between large catalogs (including the DFBS spectroscopic database), theoretical calculations, and modelling.

At the DFBS Roma web interface (DFBS portal), trials have been made to extract given fields, explore the fields at the web page, extract individual spectra, measure and take the objects data (names, positions, magnitudes), and make up a list of objects from the given field.

Astronomical data center in Armenia. Digitization works of the Byurakan archive plates are being continued. The digitized Byurakan plates will make up the main part of the Armenian astronomical data centre. In addition, mirroring of the international databases will be made. A number of other types of information (papers, documents, etc.) will be added. Establishment and utilization of the Virtual Observatories standards in Armenia is being continued, too.

A collaboration between the Armenian and French VOs was started to put the DFBS plates in the VO format and use them in Aladin and other standard interfaces. A.Mickaelian was invited to France for this purpose, and is currently working with the Paris-Meudon Observatory and CDS teams. A number of science projects are planned, including search for new bright QSOs, identification and measurement of known asteroids on the DFBS plates, etc.


We released made another public release - AstroGrid 2006.2. This is both a release of software and an operational release for users. AstroGrid now has approximately 300 registered users. The new release can be found at http://software.astrogrid.org/

We have been running a series of workshops to promote the use of AstroGrid. The first, in Edinburgh in January, was a technical workshop aimed at data centre staff, local system managers and so on. Following this we have run two science user workshops, in Sussex and Inperial and Imperial College, with another due soon in Durham. These are three day workshops, centred around science problems to be tackled with VO tools. Feedback has been positive overall, but always with very hardnosed criticism stirred in !

We have continued to concentrate on making applications integration as easy as possible, especially in work with our European partners in VOTECH. The first improvement is adding the "Astro Server Runtime (ASR)" to our successful "Astro Client Runtime (ACR)". The next improvement is "PLASTIC" (PLatform for AStronomical Toool Interconnection), developed together with the Aladin, Visivo, and Topcat teams (see http://plastic.sourceforge.net/). This is a hub-and-message protocol that allows tools to interoperate. This means for example that within the AstroGrid Workbench you can use Astroscope to search for SIAP services near a given position; highlight one of the results; and then click "process with Aladin" (or VOSpec, or Topcat) and it just works. Putting together our original Common Execution Architecture (CEA) with ACR, ASR, and PLASTIC, we have a more or less complete API for tools writers. To encourage the development of new tools that are scientifically we have put out a community call for proposed new tools (see http://www.astrogrid.org/toolscall.html)

We have had very successful collaborative visits recently with external partners - notably JVO, RVO, and the SALT team in South Africa.

Our next key step is writing a proposal for a third round of funding, by September.


Since the last IVOA exec meeting in January 2006, main activities of China-VO include:

Two full time developers are hired by for the project. One college graduated student has joined the project as system administrator and website maintainer. Whose main task in the coming years is translation of the several thousands of “ReadMe”s from VizieR system into Chinese. Another graduated student will join our group in the fall after he graduates from university. Whose work will focus on workflow related development in Grid enviroments.

The development of SkyMouse 1.0 is nearly finished, which will be released to the public by the end of May. I will give a talk about the application during the IAU GA in Prague. SkyMouse is an intelligent astronomical on-line service access system. Several popular services, for example, SIMBAD name resolver, NED, ADS abstract service, are integrated. A screen word pickup client is also included in the system.

Development of JDL (Job Description Language), a data mining framework for VO, and CompuCell, a common interface mechanism, is ongoing. A talk was given at the IVOA/GGF Astro-RG workshop held in Tokyo last week.

Preparation work for the IVOA 2007 Interoperability meeting continues. Application to CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) for hosting the meeting has been approved in April. Funding applying is ongoing.

Three papers have been submitted to SPIE conference.


VObs.it (aka DRACO) Italy

VObs.it, the official representative of the Italian community within IVOA, is slowly starting its activities. The terms of reference of the initiative are being drafted, and an initial plan of work is being prepared, compatible with the amount of funding INAF has invested. Besides IA2, the INAF data centre, the INAF sites of Turin (archive of uncompressed GSC II images to be imported from STScI) and Milan (VIMOS reduced data) are involved. A decision for the inclusion of the ASI Science Data Centre (ASDC) within VObs.it is expected in the ASI-INAF meeting to be held in mid-June; the inclusion of Paolo Giommi, ASDC head, in the Euro-VO Science Advisory Committee, was positively received. Some negociations with the solar community for integration of SOLARNET have also started. Furthermore, the ITVO (Italian Theoretical VO) activities, involving Catania, Trieste, CINECA and possibly Teramo, are logically included in VObs.it.

On TVO issues, the workshop held in February in Cambridge was attended. As a consequence of the actions decided therein, work on the definition of the Simple Numerical simulations Access Protocol (SNAP) prototype was performed, and will be described and proposed at the IVOA Interoperability meeting to be held in Victoria. A first prototype application of SNAP is the integration with VisIVO, while the integration of access to numerical simulations with virtual observations tools is being implemented. This work is coordinated with the INAF contribution to the Design Study (DS) #4 of the VO-Tech project (building tools to compare theoretical and observational data); priorities of DS4 were changed to fit the SNAP development schedule.

Other VO-Tech activities includes work on generalised UCDs and ontology (DS5), developed in close collaboration with CDS where an INAF-funded position was located in spring. DS6 includes work on 3D visualisation (VisIVO) and data mining techniques (AstroNeural). VisIVO was included in the first VO-Tech software distribution, and its integration with other VO applications within the PLASTIC framework was successfully made.

Some work on CEA was also performed, but the tool currently released seems to be inadequate for the requirements of massive distributed computing (e.g. Grid access) coming from the community. Since VObs.it derives from DRACO, a Grid project, Grid-related activities are quite advanced. The IVOA-GGF workshop at GGF17 in Tokyo were attended and three presentations were made.

A workshop was organised at the end of the DRACO project (presentations and posters available at http://wwwas.oat.ts.astro.it/twiki/bin/view/GridWshop/GridWorkshopAgenda). The main purpose of the project, i.e. porting on the Italian production grid (Grid.it, compliant with EGEE) a number of applications of astrophysical interest, was successfully achieved, While waiting for the availability of a coherent set of IVOA standards, a number of Italian scientists now use Grid facilities.

Work is now planned to be invested in allowing the applications running on the Grid to access VO resources, so to allow a smooth two-ways integration of the two standards. Within the VO-DCA project (recently approved by the EU) our team will be investigating the use of Grid standards within the VO, and in particular the possible interactions between Euro-VO and EGEE.

The prototype of G-DSE (Grid Data Source Engine) was finalised. G-DSE is capable of accessing generic databases using Grid standards and prototype ADQL calls: it can be considered to be some sort of SkyNode access from within the Grid environment. Some experience with Grid workflow languages (BPEL) to run applications of astrophysical interest was also made.

Given the experience our team can bring, we propose the formal participation of INAF in the IVOA Astro-RG IG on these topics.


All three organizations within the EURO-VO are now funded and active. New EURO-VO web paged are now online at http://www.euro-vo.org.

A proposal to the European Commission Framework Program 6 for funds to support the startup of the EURO-VO Data Centre Alliance has been successful. Approximately 1.5 million Euro has been allocated over 28 months to 8 organizations to support staff at national data centres in VO-takeup, to run coordination workshops, to specifically support theory data in the VO and to interface to computational grid projects. The DCA contract and all DCA aspects of the EURO-VO are lead by Francoise Genova. The project is expected to start on September 1st this year.

The EURO-VO Facility Centre (VOFC) is a joint effort of ESA and ESO to provide EURO-VO central services (e.g. registry, web presence), to provide a secretariat for the EURO-VO Science Advisory Committee and to provide direct support to community VO-enabled science projects. The VOFC held the first meeting of the EURO-VO Science Advisory Committee (VOSAC) on April 27/28 in Garching. The VOSAC is chaired by Timo Prusti with Paolo Padovani as secretary. The four EURO-VO principal scientists (Paolo Padovani and Matteo Guainazzi VOFC, Mark Allen DCA and Nic Walton VO Technology Centre) sit ex officio on the VOSAC. A full list of VOSAC members can be found on the VOSAC pages (http://www.euro-vo.org/twiki/bin/view/Fc/ScienceAdvisoryCommittee). The VOSAC provides advice to the EURO-VO Executive Board (P.Quinn chair, A.Lawrence (VOTC board chair), F.Genova (DCA Board chair) and M.Kessler (VOFC co-chair with P.Quinn). The first full time VOFC staff position at ESO was advertised in March and a candidate will be identified in May. VOFC will act as a coordinating body for the IVOA presence at the IAU in Prague.

The EURO-VO Technology Centre (VOTC, lead by Andy Lawrence) is currently coordinating two projects. The VO-TECH project (http://eurovotech.org/) began in 2005 with 6.6 million Euro in partner and EC funds to conduct 6 design studies on VO infrastructure, user tools, resource discovery and data exploration. Current status and reports can be founds at http://eurovotech.org/twiki/bin/view/VOTech/. The ESA VO project also carries a technical development program within VOTC working on VOSpec enhancements (inc. model fitting, 'plastic' interface), Basic SkyNode with Source Catalogue Data Model and VOQuest tool as a client prototype consuming these services, Registry, SLAP, line data model and new photometry model (http://esavo.esac.esa.int/).

P.Quinn will step down as chair of the EURO-VO Executive Board in July 2006 following his departure from ESO. Francoise Genova will become EURO-VO Executive Board Chair from July and ESO will be represented by Paolo Padovani within the EURO-VO until Peter's replacement is identified. Peter will return to Australia to take up a professorship in astronomy at the University of Western Australia where he will work on setting up a new astronomy group and centre in support of radio astronomy at the proposed SKA site in Mileura, Western Australia. Peter will become actively involved in the AUS-VO project and hopefully return to the IVOA Exec with his AUS-VO hat by early 2007.

France VO

Main activities of France VO since mid-January 2006:

(1) The second tutorial on VO standards and tools has been organized in Strasbourg (30 January - 1 February 2006), with 20 participants from ten laboratories. Many of these laboratories were not present at the first tutorial in October 2004 nor at the First Euro-VO Workshop in June 2005. This demonstrate once again the widespread interest of French laboratories in providing services to the VO. New disciplines such as geodesy are showing up.

A specific tutorial on the implementation of Web Services was organized the following day.

All tutorial materials are available.

(2) Travel funds have been distributed following the fisrt 2006 AO, to support participation in the Victoria Interoperability meetings, the coordination of efforts and international cooperation in several domains (the study of the Sun and Space plasma physics; geodesy; atomic and molecular data of astrophysical interest; theory), and technical working group activities (stellar spectra; multi-dimensional images; workflow). The second 2006 AO is coming soon.

(4) An update of the census of VO-related projects in France is under way, to identify evolutions since the first census (February 2005) and to prepare French participation to the Euro-VO Data Centre Alliance project. One expected output of the project is the list of services provided by French teams, which will be published on the F-VO web site.

(5) Significant participation of staff from French teams expected at the Victoria meeting (19 registered participants from Besancon, Lyon, Paris and Strasbourg Observatories), with contributions on a variety of subjects.

(6) Working Group/topical meetings:

in Paris on 5-6 April 2006, with the participation of Gerard Lemson (GAVO) who gave one of the introductory talks. There were presentations by the groups potentially interested in publishing services in the VO. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Specific Action Numerical Simulations. French VO (Horizon project) also participated in the Cambridge IVOA Theory IG meeting (27-28 February 2006).

  • Presentation of SITools/SAADA/Pleinpot, 1 June 2006, IAS, Orsay

  • WG Workflows, 16 June 2006, Paris

(7) French VO will be present at the annual meeting of the French Astronomy and Astrophysics Society (SF2A), which will be held June 26-30 in Paris, with:

  • an invited talk at the plenary meeting, focussed on the scientific usage of the VO

  • a half-day session, for presentation of the European context and of the census results, and a round-table discussion
  • a poster session allowing VO-related projects to present their activities
  • half a session in common with the National Program Solar-Terrestrial Relations (PNST)

Francoise Genova, 11 May 2006




1. Since last exec meeting JVO implemented additional features to our Work Flow system, which include parallel iteration, Monitor and Discovery Service (MDS) to collect status information from data analysis servers, and so on. We demonstrated the WF system during the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of Japan. We released a new SkyNode Toolkit to enable VO people to implement the SkyNode interface easily. The toolkit can be downloaded from the JVO's website.

2. Collaboration with AstroGrid is going on. Two projects agreed to exchange their products such as SkyNode toolkit, MySpace, and so on, and to develop jointly the workflow builder.

3. JVO succeeded to extend its funding from the Japan Society for Promotion of Sciences until 2009. There was a tough competition, however, JSPS highly regarded the world VO activities.

Korean VO


The NVO External Advisory Committee met in February. The Committees report speaks highly of the NVO development teams accomplishments and offers good advice for future planning.

Detailed preparations are being made for the third NVO Summer School, which will again be held in Aspen, CO (6-14 September). Supplemental funding proposals were submitted to NSF and NASA.

Sixteen awards of $25k were made for NVO Research Initiatives projects. A number of the successful proposals came from people who had attended NVOSS I or II.

The major technical activities of the past quarter included:

  • A study of possible restructuring of the registries that would more easily accommodate multiple types of services for the same data collections and that would allow schema extensions for detailed metadata caching.
  • A simplification of the VOStore/VOSpace design, consolidating distributed storage services into a single layer. A simple authentication system has been prototyped and demonstrated to be interoperable over three different sites.
  • Finalizing the Spectral Data Model and Simple Spectrum Access Protocol (SSAP), both of which must be completed prior to the May IVOA Interoperability Workshop in Victoria, BC.
  • Completion of the Space-Time Coordinates data model and schema, V1.30. The STC schema are now fully validated and have been used to auto-generate software in C#/.NET and Java. JHUs footprint services can read and write STC region specifications.
  • Integration of various web logs to validate the NVO service log design.

Two exploratory sky visualization projects also got underway, one using NASAs Worldwind mapping environment and the other using the Google-Earth framework. The idea is to provide VO survey data sets in an easy-to-use, visual data exploration environ-ment suitable for public outreach and education. More quantitative tools and links to VO data access services (SIAP, SSAP, SkyNode) will be investigated in the future.

Additional information is available in the most recent NVO Quarterly Report, at http://www.us-vo.org/pubs/files/FY06Q2.pdf.


RVO current report : from OlegMalkov

  1. Meetings
    • A meeting "Virtual Observatory: scientific problems and techniques for their solution" was organized by the RVO in Moscow 10-11 of April 2006. Some 40 participants attended the meeting, and about 15 presentations were made, including 4 demo. The program of the meeting can be found at http://www.inasan.ru/eng/conferences/rvo_0406/ The presentations (mostly in English) are at http://www.inasan.ru/eng/conferences/rvo_0406/presentations.html
    • Interoperability meeting (Moscow, Sep 2006) together with Small Projects meeting will be organized in cooperation with IVOA colleagues
  2. Working groups
    • RVO data
      • Information on 100 Russian on-line resources of astronomical data, prepared in 20 observatories and institutions, is collected. Seventeen of them are registered in the NVO registry. Russian astronomical resources are announced at http://www.inasan.rssi.ru/eng/rvo/rus_res.html
      • ADS and INES mirrors in INASAN are supported
      • About 10 catalogues of various types of binaries are prepared and submitted to CDS
    • Technologies of information infrastructure of RVO
      • Working contacts with the developers of the AstroGrid systems in the UK has been established
      • The AstroGrid RVO Community Center for scientific problem solving over the distributed information repositories accumulated in the world has been established. The Center has been created at the IPI RAS on the basis of the AstroGrid system developed in the UK and kindly delivered by the authors for the needs of RVO. Opening of the AstroGrid RVO is one of the first steps on implementation of the Information Infrastructure of the Russian Virtual Observatory (IIRVO). Research groups and individual researchers are invited for registering as AstroGrid RVO users. More details on the AstroGrid RVO capabilities can be found at the Announcement of the AstroGrid RVO (http://synthesis.ipi.ac.ru//synthesis/projects/astromedia/astroannounce) that contains also instructions for the registration of users
      • The AstroGrid capabilities have been tried during implementation of facilities for solving of the distant galaxies discovery problem (http://synthesis.ipi.ac.ru//synthesis/projects/astromedia/distgal)
    • The database of Moscow astronomical plate collection and maintenance of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars
      • An electronic catalog of several thousands of plates of the Sternberg Institute's collection has been compiled
      • A draft operator's manual for scanning Sternberg Institute's plates with the CREO EverSmart Supreme scanners has been prepared
      • Scanning Moscow and Zvenigorod plates has been started in Zvenigorod, scanning Sternberg Institute's plates has been started in Moscow in a trial mode
      • The scanning laboratory in Zvenigorod has developed its Internet site
      • Equipment needed to keep and process data and to provide access to data obtained in the process of scanning has been purchased
      • The main part of the work on preparation of the 78th Name List of Variable Stars has been finished
      • The work on complete identification of GCVS stars with positional catalogs using finding charts, which took several years, has been completed. As a result, virtually all GCVS stars now have coordinates precise enough for automatic identifications
    • Informational technologies in astronomy
      • Infrastucture of CAS was developed and working prototype in SAI-MSU could be accessed at http://vo.astronet.ru
      • Radial query (conesearch) was implemented to following big catalogs: USBO-B1, 2MASS (psc,xsc), Tycho2
      • We developed the biggest russian portal on astronomy http://www.astronet.ru/
      • We developed very fast algorithm (Q3C) for search and xmatching of very big astronomical catalogs in RDBMS. Realization for RDBMS. PostgreSQL is freely available from http://q3c.sf.net



Report of activities at VOI over the period Jan-May 06.

We have been active with developing our application packages for use by the VO community and astronomers in general.

As regards, VOPlot, we are adding some functionality to it, including the provision to have multiple windows. This work is being done by two project students, and we expect to release their efforts some time in June.

We have just released a new version of VOMegaplot. The preprocessing time for the catalogues has now been reduced drastically (from several hours to eighteen minutes), and some new features have been added. We would greatly appreciate having comments from the community to enable us to improve the package.

We are now seriously into making a new version of VOStat, which was originally developed at Caltech (Ashish Mahabal, Roy Williams etal) and Penn State (Jogesh Babu etal). We have team of astronomers, statisticians and developers working together, and in collaboration with Caltech and Penn Sate, are developing a product with new tests, interface, look look and feel. We are tying together VOStat nd VOPLot, and though the package is tailored for the VO, its use should go far beyond the community of astronomers. We hope to have an early version ready by mid-July, and to demo the product in Prague.

We have some early thoughts on machine learning based packages, which should be useful to the VOEvent community, but it is early days yet to say much.

Ajit Kembhavi

Reports from WGs

Grid and Web Services Working Group

The Single Sign-On (SSO) work-package is producing its standard in four documents so that the least-contentious parts may be stablized and published as soon as possible. The authentication-methods document is now complete and will progress to v1.0 public WD on the last day of the Victoria Interop. The other documents are less advanced.

NVO and AstroGrid both have implementations of parts of the SSO profile. Interoperability trials should happen in the summer of 2006.

VO Support Interfaces (VOSI) has been split into two separate specifications: common interfaces for all services (agreed) and log harvesting (contentious). The log-harvesting interface is now seen as a specialized service, not as an aspect of all services. The common interfaces should be promoted to v1.0 public WD in the week after the Victoria Interop.

Because VOSI is now moving forward again the VO Basic Profile for web services can be completed.

The Universal Worker Service (UWS) specification has been rewritten. It now concentrates on the UWS pattern and describes, in outline only, four possible applications of that pattern. The group has agreed to work on the Parameterized Applications use of UWS, which will lead to a standard for an asynchronous ADQL-service.

VOSpace-1 replaces VOStore; the former has the same uses and capabilities as the latter, but has a much better upgrade path to later systems. VOSpace-2 is to specify a data-space interface that supports hiearchies of containers and links between spaces (including links to VOSpace-1 spaces). VOSpace has been worked on intensively by a "tiger team" and a v1.0 public WD is expected in early June 2006.

The GWS-WG roadmap is now available on the WG wiki-pages.

Semantics/UCD WG

Report of chairman of the Semantics/UCD WG

The following is the list of actions decided in the last Interop meeting (Madrid), with the present status, and of other activities of the WG:

  • At the end of 2005 the list of UCD-words was approved by the IVOA EXEC and became an IVOA Recommendation: ?The UCD1+ controlled vocabulary. Version 1.11, 31 December 2005?

  • On the same time the WG defined and discussed on a possible standard procedure to revise or update the list of UCD-words. First an internal Technical Note was written, then a Working Draft (?Maintenance of the list of UCD words Version 1.00?). In mid-March I decided to move the WD document to the level of Proposed Recommendation, opening a RFC to the Interop community.

  • The RFC period ended on April 12 with 4 comments, all accepted. The PR document has been revised accordingly (version 1.2 of 2006-04-21), and sent to the the chair of the IVOA Technical Coordination Group.

  • A chart for the new UCD/Semantics WG was presented to the IVOA EXEC in January 2006 (this text can be found in the ?Latest Documents? section of the UCD-WG web page at IvoaUCD )

  • Work on a Standard Vocabulary for the VO started at the beginning of 2006. A first internal note was written and posted on the UCD-WG page. First results will be presented at the InterOpMay2006 meeting.

  • UCDs were intensively used in two data centers (CDS/Vizier, HEASARCH). At least these two examples of actual use of UCDs will be discussed at the InterOpMay2006 meeting.

Data Models WG

The DM working group has three key models working towards completion: Spectrum, STC and Characterization. In addition, rapid progress is being made by the Atomic Line model.

Following community feedback, we have refactored the old SED model into a simpler Spectrum model and a short SED document defining how to aggregate multiple Spectrum instances into an SED. The model has been implemented as a Java subroutine library. We have also made a version of the model which includes STC and Characterization, and the group will discuss whether to go this route for version 1.0.

The Characterization authors have reached agreement on a working draft of the document, with accompanying schema. We now need broader WG feedback on this document. There is a partial Aladin implementation of the model.

The Space-Time Coordinates documents and schema have been updated following feedback at Madrid; the technical description document is still being updated.

The component models defined within the Spectrum model are suitable for reuse in other contexts. The WG has to decide how to provide these reusable components.

Data Access Layer WG

Effort continues to advance SSA to the V1.0 WD stage. Most of this effort has focused on data model issues, which connect together all elements of the interface and must be resolved before we can have a stable release. The main efforts include

  • Refactoring of the SED model to provide top-level models for Spectrum, TimeSeries, and SED data objects. These are subclasses of the generic Dataset and inherit all standard dataset metadata. Internally they are built upon standard component data models (such as Characterization), plus some custom elements specific to the data object. This effort is largely complete, with the main emphasis being to complete the Spectrum model.

  • Reworking the SSA models to make better use of the Characterization and STC data models. Characterization in particular is new and has advanced significantly over the past months.

  • Agreement on key data representation issues, most notably the use of Utype to identify data model elements both within XML structures such as VOTable, and in other contexts as well.

  • Revision of the SSA query interface to bring the models therein in agreement with the more formal data models.

This data model-related work has been largely completed and we hope to reach agreement on the key issues in the May interop, after which the protocol revisions required to advance SSA to the V1.0 WD stage can be completed.

Further work has also been done on the query parameter interface. The technical aspects of the protocol are being revised based in part on the Web Mapping Service (WMS) specification from the OpenGIS community, which is similar in many respects to the HTTP-based DAL interfaces. For example, WMS has defined approaches to handling GET or POST-based web services with multiple operations, version specification and negotation, exception handling, range lists, etc., which are in large part usable for the DAL interfaces.

A use-case study has been performed to determine how to support access to data cubes. This was driven primarily by the need to publish data from radio data cubes to the VO, but is relevant to other forms of data cubes such as from IFU instruments, and to time cubes as well. This has spawned a second study to determine how to handle "complex" data, i.e., data collections consisting of more than one type of data (3-D cube, 2-D image, extracted spectrum or catalog, etc.). Cube data access is currently seen as best handled as a generalization of the current SIA interface. Complex data requires relating different kinds of data, which places it outside the bounds of a specific typed interface such as SIA or SSA. The generic "Dataset" class, which pertains to all types of data (image, spectrum, catalog, etc.), has been proposed as a solution to describing and managing access to complex data collections.

The impact of the need to handle cube data in the SIA upgrade is still being assessed. It is not yet clear whether this should be addressed by replacing the 2-D SIA interface with a more general interface or by adding a generalized N-D image access interface and merely upgrading the 2-D SIA interface to reflect current standards.

Registry WG

The major work of this group has taken place within the tiger team set up at Kyoto to develop a data model for the Registry metadata. This group has had numerous telecons resulting in proposals to put to the Victoria meeting, hopefully leading to a V1.0 standard by end of June. These proposals are listed at: together with the registry interface specification:

Document Standards WG -

  • this group is no longer active

VOEvent WG

The VOEvent Working group (InterOpMay2006VOEvent) has produced a version 1.1 draft schema. Changes from 1.0 include definition of IVOA identifiers for events and how these can be resolved through the Registry.

A joint effort with the Semantics WG (VOEventVocabulary) is to define a controlled vocabulary for astronomical objects and the processes that cause VOEvent packets to be issued; the vocabulary will form the basis of a hypothesis section, where the event author can hypothesize what sort of process created the event, and what object is accociated with the event.

The VOEventNet project (voeventnet.caltech.edu) is funded in the US to build an infrastructure for VOEvents that involves rapid followup, then federation and re-evaluation through machine learning. The project involves Caltech, UC Berkeley, Los Alamos, and NOAO, with eStar in the UK in close collaboration.

VOTable WG

Several concerns about divergences between the VO components were raised, like how units are expressed, the different ways of expressing date/time, etc. Some difficulties with the usage of the VOTable XML Schema in some tools were also reported, and will be discussed at the Victoria meeting. But the main concern consists in an inter-group agreement on how to assign the so-called utypes (utypes are aimed at providing complete descriptions of the FIELDs and PARAMeters included in a VOTable by a reference to the data model that describe these). A consensus could not be reached at the El Escorial meeting, essentially by different views on this subject in the DM, DAL and VOTable groups. Private discussions between leaders of these WGs are taking place, with the hope of reaching some consensus on this issue for the Victoria meeting.


1) General

  • The working drafts of ADQL and Skynode interface are still under preparation. The due date was Nov 15 in the last year. We needed more time to generalize and finalize the documents. We would like to finish them in June(?).

  • The updated ADQL schema will be preseneted at the Victria meeting. Some modification is made for simplifying the strucure and for fixing some minor problem.

  • The ADQL-Light, which conforms to the ADQL core specification, is under prepartion and will be presented at the Victoria meeting.

  • Standardization of the content of a returned VOTable is under preparation and will be presented at the Victria meeting.

  • We would like to finalize how to describe the specification of the xmatch functionality on the Victria meeting. Which algorithm should be mandatory for the cross-match skynode ?

2) JVO

  • SkyNode toolkit has been released at the following URL: http://jvo.nao.ac.jp/download/skynode-toolkit/ JVO has released three versions after the last IVOA meeting. New version will be released before the Victria meeting.
  • The degree of the conformance to the standard SQL is beeing investigated for several major DBMSs (Oracle, PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLServer, DB2...). It is also investigated that how the object data types are treated on those DBMS.

3) NVO

  • JHU is making a significant effort to redesign the Open SkyQuery system to remove the 5K row limitation. The effort has initially been directed to implement a pipeline system where data get processed in packets as they arrive.

  • We continue to work on the set up of a parallel platform that will allow large-scale Crossmatch. Several big databases (USNO-B, 2MASS, and SDSS) are being partitioned and distributed across a cluster of computers.

  • We have started to explore compatibility issues with the SkyNode and Open SkyQuery portal software as we as well as others move into the new .NET 2.0 framework. We are still trying to solve these problems.

  • For the AAS in January, A Simple Form Query Interface was added to the Open SkyQuery portal. This new tool allows formulating simple queries to public catalogs (SkyNodes) as well as performing cross-matches for up to three catalogs. This simple interface is intended to attract additional users and motivate and teach them how to perform more sophisticated searches.

  • NCSA has adapted ADQL to include INSERT, DELETE, and UPDATE statement extensions. In the context of a NOAO Science Archive project, NCSA is using the INSERT extension for adding data in the database controlling access to the Science Archive, which is implemented as a SkyNode. While these extensions are not recognized as VOQL standard extensions, they provide an excellent example of future improvements as well as how individual may adapt IVOA standards to meet their specific needs.

  • Raytheon/UMD has been involved in synthesis of the data models for Quantity and Catalog, ontology, and high-level queries. They have relased VOORML, or Virtual Observatory Object Relational Mapping Layer, designed to map metadata within one or more relational databases into a single, queryable, XML document. (The software is available at the NVO CVS repository (as contributed software))

  • Raytheon/UMD has been experimenting with OWL and RDF technologies to specify classes and instances in science. An application is being constructed that uses OWL classes of data and operations to graphically construct data pathways.


- BasicSkyNodes with support to Source Catalogue DM : - Java server implementing the BasicSkyNode specifications. - Support to 4 versions of ADQL (0.7.4 / 0.8 / 0.9 / 1.0). - XSLT translation to generic SQL / Sybase SQL / MySQL SQL. - XSLT translation to generic ASU query language (used by Vizier). - Mechanism to map Source Catalogue DM (or other DM) to database columns. - Dynamic "table join" SQL statement generation.

- VOQuest : client prototype to query and consume above services.

5) CDS

- testing is under way with both the JVO and the ESAC SkyNode kits. A few VizieR catalogues are available through SkyNodes.

6) others

- Nothing from other projects.

Applications IG

The Applications Interest group continues to provide a forum, for announcements of new and updated VO tools. New announcements since the October Interop meeting include:

VOplot 1.3 (source code of VOPlot v1.2.1) Topcat 2.1 Plastic Hub beta VOTable Streaming Writer v1.1 VOMegaPlot v1.0 Beta VO_IMPAT 1.0beta Beta Release of AstroGrid Plastic Hub, ASR, ACR & Workbench

The mailing list has included discussion on implementing coordinate transformation capabilities in VO tools/services, specifically using FITS Java library with WCS routines.

There have been developments on the interoperability of VO tools, i.e. real-time interaction between separate tools including interactive cross-tool selection of points. The technology behind this interaction in "PLASTIC" (PLatform for AStronomical Tool InterConnection) and has been a development of Euro-VO partners. PLASTIC will be presented and demonstrated at the May 2006 meeting, along with a general discussion of how VO tools can work together. There will also be discussion of whether PLASTIC should enter the IVOA standards procedure.

Theory IG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

Preservation standards and preservation mechanisms are being developed by the archivist, digital library, and data grid communities. A reasonable goal for the IVOA community is to build upon consensus technology that supports all of the preservation efforts. Specific projects that are being tracked include: Interpares project on preservation of authentic records, European Union Caspar project for preservation of representation information, US National Archives and Records Administration electronic records archive, NOAO preservation environment, Hubble Space Telescope preservation project, DSpace digital library curation system, Fedora digital library middleware, NSF Chronopolis preservation project for scientific data collections, and Global Grid Forum preservation environment research group. From these communities, a standard approach is emerging that differentiates between management of distributed data, processes for curation and creation of the archival form of the preserved data, and management of the preservation policies. A recent report from RLG/NARA on Trusted Digital Repository assessment criteria is being used as the basis for establishing management policies. A paper on the expression of management policies as rules that can be automatically validated was accepted at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries workshop on preservation assessment. The report is being further reviewed by the Caspar project, the DSpace digital library, the NARA persistent archive, the GGF preservation environment research group, and the Chronopolis preservation project.

Astro-RG IG

Succesful workshop and Astro-RG update session (~50 attendees, inc Tony Hey - Microsoft VP - for part)) held May 10 2006 at the Global Grid Forum meeting in Tokyo (GGF17). Materials at GgfIvoaMay06WorkShop (talks will be uploaded soon) - and at http://www.ggf.org/gf/event_schedule/materials.php?event_id=4 (most materials except certan large files there now).

A number of areas of interest resulted that will be discussed in the Victoria IVOA Astro-RG session (weds). Main areas being: Authorisation/Authentication, Workflows, Storage and Events.

Topic revision: r36 - 2007-01-19 - BrunoRino
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