IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (FM25)

Thurs 27 Sept 2007 @ 16.45-18.30 GMT


Location: Hoyle Committee Room, IoA, Cambridge, UK - see InterOpSep2007

Agenda (draft 20070917)

  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  2. Minutes of TM24
  3. Review of Actions
  4. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  5. Working Groups and Interest Groups
    • Clarification/Modification of the Standardization process (BH) Process and checklist as discussed in June
    • Revival of Standards and Process WG (FG, BH)
    • Policy Discussion of WG Transitions to Maintenance Mode (DD)
  6. Status of the Assessment Working Group (DD)
  7. Discussion of Google Sky, the VO, and the IVOA (BH)
  8. IVOA and the next IAU GA (MO, RW)
  9. Discussion of Possible New IVOA Members (FG, RW)
  10. Support of VO Training Programs (BH)
  11. Status of preparation for spring 2008 Interop (FP)
  12. Status and venue for the fall 2008 Interop (BH)
  13. Date and venue of the next Exec meeting
  14. AOB
  15. Summary of Actions

Reports from the Projects



We are in the final stages of preparing new grants for the "AstroGrid-3" phase, developing our project plan, and preparing a deployment plan, as AG3 is a transition project which will take us into the operations phase which will hopefully be funded in due course. Meanwhile we have been continuing to improve and develop our server side performance, our client side middleware (Astro Runtime) and our new user interface components (VO Explorer, File Explorer, Task Launcher, Query Builder), as well as better integration with bundled tools (e. Topcat, Aladin, SPLAT, and possibly the new Paperscope). Our aim is to make a full "new look" public release in April, which will probably be called "VO Desktop". We will be making a beta release in January and look forward to our international VO colleagues interacting with us.



Please see our previous report at IvoaExecMeetingTM24#China_VO

The China-VO 2007 annual meeting (including a short user training) will be held from Nov. 20-21 in Guangzhou, southern China city, just before the Chinese Astronomy Society annual meeting.



The EURO-VO Science Advisory Committee (SAC), which provides scientific advice to the project, met for the third time on June 18 at ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands. SAC members were updated on the latest EURO-VO developments. The meeting agenda with all presentations is available at http://www.euro-vo.org/twiki/bin/view/Fc/SacMeeting03.

In the framework of the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting, JENAM 2007, held in Armenia on August 20-25, a two-day EAS Symposium on "Science with the Virtual Observatories" took place (http://www.aras.am/JENAM-2007/EASsymp08.htm). EURO-VO astronomers participated with various invited talks.

The workshop "Astronomy with Virtual Observatories", which will see an active participation of EURO-VO scientists, is to be held in October in Pune, India. For more details see http://www.iucaa.ernet.in/~voiwork/

Negociation on the project 'Euro-VO Astronomical Infrastructure for Data Access' (EuroVO-AIDA) have been opened by the European Commission by the end of July. The project had been submitted in the frame of the first 'Scientific Data Repositories' of the 7th Framework Program. The outcome of negociations should be known soon.

France VO

France VO teams have been actively preparing the Cambridge Interoperability meeting (21 French participants will attend the meeting, from Besancon, Lyon, Marseille, Paris and Strasbourg Observatories and from the Service d'Aeronomie).

The IVOA WG and IG chairs and vice-chairs also actively participated in the TCG evaluation of the Proposed Recommendations during the Summer period.



The improvements made on Spectrum Services is mainly consists of the new I/O library that supports quick, parallelized execution of database queries and remote web service queries. A full implementation of the VO standard spectrum data model is available with XML and VOTable serializations. An improved data download interface is designed for scientists no tusing VO tools or VO file formats. A v0.1 implementation of the SSA protocol is also ready: the service is able to return results as SSA, but cannot read the currently available SSA services – mainly due to incompatibilities with the VO standard. Also, the scientific functionality of Spectrum Services were also revised. Similar spectrum search based on PCA and k-neares neighbor search is also already available.


Japan VO has renewed its portal. We repleced the user interfaces completely for more easy undertanding of the usage and the query results where quick-look images in the queried region are shown. We also implemented a very quick access method to multi-catalog databases, which was presented at ADASS2007 in London.

NAOJ asks the Japan-VO project that it opens its functionalities to wider astronomy comminity in Japan (and its neighbouring countries), and the Japan-VO system (at present, data service only) will soon be opend on a new computer system of the NAOJ.

Japan-VO has just started a discussion regarding the ALMA Regional Center, where the implementation of the VO interfaces has been described in its science requirements.

Korean VO


NVO team members D. Tody and J. McDowell completed their terms as chairs of the IVOA Data Access Layer Working Group and Data Models Working Group, respectively. M. Graham has been appointed as chair of the Grid and Web Services Working Group, and R. Hanisch has been appointed as chair of the Data Curation and Preservation Interest Group.

E. Schreier and R. Moore have resigned from the NVO Executive Committee, and G. Fabbiano and T. McGlynn have agreed to replace them. Pepi and Tom bring extensive experience from the perspective data center operations.

The NVO data discovery portal tiger team has been working to refine the requirements and develop a design for a new primary interface to VO resources. Our goal is to make this interface available to the user community in January 2008.

Much effort has gone into the NVO Book, a compendium of lectures and tutorials from the NVO Summer Schools and other background materials. The book should be ready to send to the publisher, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, by the end of July.

R. Hanisch submitted a proposal for a session about Virtual Observatories and Internet-enabled research collaboratories to the AAAS annual meeting (Boston, February 2008). This proposal was accepted.

The complete report of NVO activities for the period April-June 2007 is available at http://www.us-vo.org/pubs/files/FY07Q3.pdf.


1. Task force "Technologies of RVO information structures" (IPI RAS, led by Leonid Kalinichenko)

1.1. Data mining facilities of Weka oriented on usage of ensemble of classification algorithms (called Ensembled Weka) has been incorporated into AstroGrid as CEA-application that takes for input a task description file and a catalogue. The result of ensemble application is returned to MySpace. This result can be used as an input for further steps of a workflow. Implementation of Ensembled Weka in AstroGrid has been checked applying it for the eclipsing binaries classification.

1.2. A work on extension of AstroGrid with Semantic Data Integration Capability is under way.

The paradigm used is a "scientific problem driven" approach that assumes creation of "subject mediators" that support an interaction between a researcher and resources applying a description of the problem class subject domain (description of the mediator) that is given in an abstract terms without any explicit references to the relevant data or service resources. This paradigm has various benefits comparing to the resource driven approach that dominates now.

The first prototype of the mediation infrastructure has been developed and checked applying it to a distant galaxy discovery problem. A mediator prototype can be configured for solving of any other problems specifying respective mediators. A work of synergy of the mediation infrastructure with the AstroGrid is planned to be completed this year to start experimentation with real problems specification and solving in such environment.

2. The database of Moscow astronomical plate collection and maintenance of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (INASAN and SAI MSU, led by N.N. Samus)

The GCVS team is finishing preparation of the 79th Name-List of Variable Stars. Its content will be incorporated in the online GCVS data base before the end of the year. The GCVS team and the Strasbourg data center have made new arrangements to ensure regular updating of the GCVS information in SIMBAD and VizieR.

Complete electronic logbooks of the Sternberg Institute's 40-cm astrograph have been prepared. After verification, they will be made available to potential users. Scanning plates of the Sternberg Institute's stacks continues on a regular basis. Simultaneously, the astrometric and photometric properties of the CREO EverSmart Supreme scanners are being studied in detail. We are improving reduction techniques, in particular, those of automatic variable star discoveries. Several hundred variable stars have been discovered in 2007, publications are in preparation.

3. Zvenigorod Scanlaboratory Group (INASAN, led by S.V. Vereshchagin)

The project "Creation of Database of astronegatives of Zvenigorod observatory" is developed by the group. The basic result of Zvenigorod astrograph Zeiss - 400/2000 will be a collection including more than 4.5 thousand electronic scans of astronegatives. Limiting magnitude is equal B=17.5. A plate was received during 1972 to 2003 under various programs (the photometry of field stars, comets, asteroids, etc.). The equipment to begin the work on the project is established: two EPSON Expression 1640XL scanners. The quality of an observational material corresponds to the world standards.

3.1. The plate list of Astrograph Zeiss - 400/2000 telescope, in a special format was sent to the International Data Center in Sofia (Bulgaria). The data on Zvenigorod astrograph plate archive will be in the 6-th version Wide-Field Plate Database.

3.2. The plates scanning process was started on 2007. The 500 plates of Zvenigorod astrograph was scanned. The northern sky plates is 8 on 8 degrees in sizes. The personal of scanning group: S.V. Vereshchagin, N.V. Chupina, V.P. Osipenko.

3.3. The electronic version of the List of Observations of the AFU camera (the first Soviet camera for artificial satellites observations, 1970-th) was prepared. The List include 3000 negatives films. Areas of the sky for each film is 10 to 15 degrees.

3.4. The Internet resource http://www.inasan.ru/rus/scan is ready (in Russian version): Zvenigorod Observatory Astronomical Plates Arhives

4. Working group "Informational technologies in astronomy" (SAI MSU, led by Oleg Bartunov)

4.1. Added support of PLASTIC to the SAO CAS.

4.2. Loaded complete copy of DSS. SIAP access is under developing.

4.3. Full-text search of arxiv.org abstracts of preprints with support of astronomical terminology and nomenclature of astronomical names.

4.4. New version of Q3C package for sky indexing is available for download from q3c.sourceforge.net

4.5. We participated in 3 conferences (talks).

4.6. We submitted proposal "Service-Oriented Architecture for Astronomy" to the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

5. Educational activity (SAI MSU, led by A.V.Zasov)

The first time in the teaching practic the special excercise was developed for students of 3rd term, which includes a general acquaintance with the data base and the possibilities of RVO (author: E.Glushkova).


(activities since July2007. More info in http://svo.laeff.inta.es)

  • Management

- Mid-term review of the project on September 10th. Conclusions of the assessment are not yet known.

  • Meetings

- Five people from the Spanish Virtual Observatory will attend the Cambridge Interoperability meeting.

  • Education

- "The Virtual Observatory". E. Solano. II Workshop "Jovenes Astrofísicos de la Comunidad de Madrid"


No report was posted on the TM24, FM23 and TM22 web pages. This report summarizes VObs.it activities since TM21 (5 December 2006).

Due to financial problems with INAF, the foreseen 2007 funding for VObs.it (125KEuro) was frozen, and may become available towards the end this year. This had important impacts on this year’s plan of activities, with particular reference to the support foreseen for porting of a number of data centres into the VO. In any case, the INAF Information Systems Unit filled in by supporting for 2007 (on 2006 funds) two persons for VO activities, one in Trieste, one in Milan. Additional resources are received through the EU-funded projects (VO-Tech and VO-DCA). There are much better perspectives for 2008, when the funding flow is expected to return to normal.

Support of operations is continuing for IA2, the INAF data centre located in Trieste and containing TNG data and the first data acquired during the Italian time at the LBT. IA2 is ingesting data from the LBT Scientific Demonstration Time (SDT) and distributing them to the LBT scientific community. Mirror sites at Tucson and Heidelberg are being supported.

The VIMOS archive in INAF/IASF Milan is now fully compliant with VO standards and is being routinely supported.

Work is continuing on the inclusion of data from numerical simulations in the VO:

  • within VObs.it, the Italian Theory VO (ITVO) activity continued as a collaboration among INAF (Trieste, Catania and Teramo), CINECA and the University of Trieste; ITVO is partially supported by the VO-Tech EU project;
  • the ITVO databases of cosmological simulations available in Trieste and Catania were harmonised; an interoperability demo including the use of Aladin was made at the VO-Tech meeting in March;
  • besides providing theory data, ITVO can also be considered as a sandbox where the IVOA theory standards are being tested and checked;
  • within the IVOA Theory Interest Group, VObs.it is contributing to the definition of the Data Model for numerical simulations and of the related access protocol (SNAP); the validation of the Data Model has been carried out by a database implementation c/o the ITVO Trieste group;
  • the BaSTI facility providing stellar evolution models has been converted to a database structure and is being ported to the VO; the code building the models has been ported onto the EGEE grid infrastructure and is now populating the database with improved physics;

Work on generalised UCDs and ontology, developed in close collaboration with CDS and work on 3D visualisation (VisIVO) and data mining techniques (AstroNeural) are also progressing in the framework of the VO-Tech project.

Within the VO-DCA EU project, work continued to interoperate the VO with computational grids. Among the tasks performed:

  • staff from VObs.it participated in the IVOA Tiger Team on Authentication Procedures (single-sign-on);
  • a Web application handling the release of certificates was implemented (in coordination with IVOA and AstroGrid.

Grid-related activities are quite advanced: work is being invested in allowing the compute-intensive VO applications to run on the Grid, and viceversa Grid applications to access VO resources, so to allow a smooth two-ways integration of the two standards.

  • INAF is leading the “astrophysics cluster” in the EGEE-III proposal submitted to the EU; the aim is to port applications onto the computational Grid;
  • a test benchmarking different systems to access databases from the Grid (GRelC, OGSA-DAI, AMGA, GDSE) was carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Lecce and Bari and the INFN sites of Padova and Bologna;
  • a school on application porting on the Grid was organised in Trieste for INAF, Planck and Vo-DCA staff (26 Feb - 2 Mar).

“Grid-enabled Astronomy”, the proceedings of the Grid.it and DRACO workshop held at INAF headquarters in November 2005 has been published by the Polimetrica publisher, as a book - see http://www.polimetrica.com/?p=productsMore&iProduct=47&sName=Grid-enabled-Astrophysics-(Leopoldo-Benacchio,-Fabio-Pasian) - and on-line (press Download the electronic publication (FREE)).


Reports from WGs & IGs(follows order as at http://www.ivoa.net/forum/)

Applications WG

Data Access Layer WG

Data Models WG

Grid and Web Services Working Group

Registry WG

Semantics/UCD WG



VOTable WG

Astro-RG IG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

The DCP IG will meet during the Cambridge Interop, and will begin with brief presentations on the status of DCP activities in the US and Europe. Then the floor will be open for discussion of the challenges facing such efforts and the role the IVOA might play in supporting this important work. See InterOpSep2007CP for the agenda and IvoaDCP for the IG twiki page.

Theory IG

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