IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (FM36)

Sunday May 16 @ 16.00-18.00

Supplementary: Wednesday May 19 @ 12.30-14.00, extension @ 17.30


Sunday meeting in the Merino room, Wednesday meeting in the Harbour room. Full Meeting at InterOpMay2010.

Agenda FM36

  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  2. Minutes of TM35
  3. Status of Actions - brief, no discussion
  4. Project Reports - Significant Events Only
  5. Report of the TCG meeting and TCG status - CA - PDF
  6. Reports by WGs - WG Chairs
  7. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  8. Standing Committee on Science Priorities - FP
  9. Summary of Actions

Agenda FM36 Suppl

  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  2. KDD Interest Group - FP
  3. Discussion on IVOA and Exec (what is IVOA? what is Exec?) - all
  4. Discussion on the IVOA structure (Exec, committees, WGs/IGs/LGs, ...) - all
  5. IVOA Web pages - AL
  6. Interop POC - SG
  7. Expiring Chairs and Document Coordinator - FP
  8. Next Interops and Workshops
  9. Date of next meeting (TM37)
  10. AOB
  11. Discussion on Action Items
  12. Summary of Actions

Reports from the Projects


Work on creation of the Virtual Observatory standard interface SkyNode on the ArmCluster has been carried out. It is a protocol for querying VO data systems. A special attention is given to the access to our data (particularly DFBS, Digitized First Byurakan Survey low-dispersion spectra) through its interface. SkyNode will become the main portal for data query in the Armenian VO, as in a number of other national VO projects.

The Byurakan Observatory electronic plate database has been updated and complemented with new data. Altogether, 35,000 photographic plates and film exposures are present. Works on installation of this database on the BAO and ArVO (ArmCluster) servers are being conducted. It gives full access by various parameters: sky area, observing project, telescope, observing mode, date of observation, observer, etc. The 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. Discussions on possible science projects were held.

The ISTC project (A-1606) on "Development of Armenian-Georgian Grid Infrastructure and applications in the Fields of High Energy Physics, Astrophysics and Quantum Physics" has been continued in collaboration with 6 other Armenian and Georgian institutions, which includes the development of Armenian-Georgian VO based on the plate databases of Byurakan and Abastumani observatories. This will be the first attempt to create a regional VO, as in the future we will need to expand the VO projects regionally to cover larger areas in the world.

A DVD “Astronomy for Students” was produced containing a full collection of necessary information and data for students studying astronomy at the Yerevan State University (YSU). Review papers, presentations and software on Virtual Observatories have been included as well.


AstroGrid as an STFC funded project completed in December 2009, but the AstroGrid consortium continues in operation. The AstroGrid website is operational; we still offer VO Desktop, Topcat, and AstroGrid Python; and several instances of the AstroGrid registry are operational. A number of key UK staff have now left for jobs in industry or other sectors of academia, but many others remain employed and involved, either as part of EU funded projects (AIDA, VAMDC), or as data center, facility, or project staff with a partial responsibility for VO matters. AstroGrid software and services therefore remain operational and will be maintained, and key individuals will continue to contribute to IVOA working groups, but new developments will occur more slowly in the past.

Even more than is already the case, we expect that AstroGrid technical software, working services, and user tools will be seen as a contribution to a unified Euro-VO.

Our proposal to obtain funding to support the creation of the "AstroGrid Software Foundation" did not succeed, but this certainly something we will revisit.

You can obtain AstroGrid user tools at http://www.astrogrid.org and the AstroGrid technical infrastructure software at http://deployer.astrogrid.org



An overall view of the Brazilian VO project is given in its page http://www.lna.br/bravo/index.html with links to the 5 VO sub-projects being actually developed. An White Paper, found at http://www.astro.iag.usp.br/~incta/Rel_Anual_2009/relatorio_2009_anexos.htm, describes main proposed actions of BRAVO. During this last 6 months period BRAVO has:

  • Setting up a new machine to serve most of the national VO projects now being developed.

  • Started discussion with people from RNP (Brazilian National Research and Education Network) in view to increase the network accessibility of the astronomical community in Brazil to a higher level and to move to a modern network infrastructure.

This is the database for the results from running the Starlight Spectral Synthesis Code on the entire DR7 catalogue of galaxy spectra. Data from STARLIGHT catalogs are now accessible via a CasJobs (SDSS-like) interface ( http://casjobs.starlight.ufsc.br/)


  • A White Paper has been published describing the main subjects this sub-project aim to deal with (J. Comp. Int. Sci., 1(3), 187; 2010).

  • A new Decision Tree based code for star/galaxy separation have been developed and applied to the entire DR7, with better than SDSS classification at faint magnitudes.

  • 2DPhot code (wide field image analysis) is being ported to run in the Brazilian national facility grid. Re-processing the entire 5 bands SDSS images and UKIDSS is the big aim.


During the last two months, China-VO gains new visible progress in the following aspects.

A preview version of FITS Manager (FM) is completed. FM is the second FITS oriented application from the China-VO. (The first one is FitHAS.) It is a desktop tool for astronomers to manage hundreds or thousands of FITS files hosted in their personal computers. FM provides basic functions of a file explorer, including browse, search and thumbnail preview. Additionally, SAMP interfaces are provides to broadcast selected FITS files to VO applications. FM is a collaborating project with the VO-I.

Preparation work for WWT based VO and e-Science education and training activities is going on smoothly. The official announcement of “Microsoft Cup, WWT Guided Tours Design Competition” will be available very soon after the IVOA interop. A nationwide astronomy teacher training will be held in early of August. With the help of MSR, a regional cache server has been in place, which will speed up the usage of the WWT in Chinese users.

From March 17 to May 5, a series of astroinformatics trainings were organized at NAOC. The theme of these trainings is “Information Storage and Management”, taking advantages of one EMC book with the same name. 16 lectures were given by China-VO core team to NAOC graduates. About 200 audiences totally attended the trainings. It is the first experiment, this kind of practical astroinformatics trainings will continue in the next years.


We have released a production Table Access Protocol (TAP) service to support querying the Common Archive Observation Model (CAOM) data warehouse at CADC. In addition, most of the source code to implement the TAP specification, including ADQL, STC, UWS, and VOSI, is available through the OpenCADC project. We have also released new implementations of our SIA services using the CAOM TAP service and we provide an (evolving) ObsCore prototype table within our TAP service as part of the ObsCore project.

We have implemented IVOA Single Sign On across all CADC web applications and services. Users with X509 certficates can authenticate using this mechanism if they need to access proprietary data or other restricted resources.

We are currently developing a VOSpace 2.0 service. While this is primarily to support collaboration between survey team members the service will be available for use by all CADC users. In conjunction with the VOSpace development, we are also designing and prototyping a general purpose Group Membership Service (GMS); this specification will be brought forward for discussion in the Grid and Web Services WG. The prototype VOSpace and GMS source code is also available through the OpenCADC project.

CAOM TAP service: http://www.cadc.hia.nrc.gc.ca/caom/

CAOM SIA service: http://www.cadc.hia.nrc.gc.ca/sia/

OpenCADC project: http://opencadc.googlecode.com/


The EuroVO-AIDA project has continued its activities. The fifth Euro-VO Technology Forum, gathering VO developers from the partner countries, was held in Heidelberg on 16-18 March 2010 (http://cds.u-strasbg.fr/twikiAIDA/bin/view/EuroVOAIDA/FifthTechnologyForum). European VO teams continue to be very active in the development of IVOA standards and of VO services and tools.

Also noticeable is the high level of activity aimed at community outreach, which is described in more details in the partners' reports and will be the subject of a frontrow talk on May 17 (e.g., VObs.it toured all Italian observories for VO days which were attended by one fourth ( ! ) of the Italian astronomers; also schools/VO days in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and in countries which are not Euro-VO partners such as Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland). A 'portal' describing reference VO tools, and a series of tutorials on VO usage, are maintained and regularly updated in the Euro-VO web pages.

Professional tools (Aladin, Stellarium) have been adapted to educational usage, including translation in several languages, and a series of use cases have been produced for usage in classroom, in the frame of EuroVO-AIDA outreach activities (Work Package 5).

A small, one-year "bridging" project called Euro-VO International Collaboration Empowerment (EuroVO-ICE) is currently in negociation with the European Commission to ensure continuity of essential Euro-VO activities, including international collaboration within IVOA and liaison with other nearby disciplines, after the end of EuroVO-AIDA (July 2010).

France VO

See the report posted on the TM39 meeting page.


GAVO – the German Astrophysical Virtual Observatory – continued and expanded the operation of its data center ( http://dc.zah.uni-heidelberg.de ). Many new services were incorporated, most prominently the new proper motion catalogue PPMXL (a re-reduction of USNO-B). Other services were extended as well, in particular the Millenium interface, to which the Millenium II data and some hydrodynamic simulation data were added.

GAVO continued developing software, in particular the suite to support the data center, parts of which were packaged, an SQLServer extension for indexing 3D spatial data, and a generic framework to generate all kinds of artefacts from UML data model definitions.

The focus of GAVO activities in IVOA have been the simulation data model (including SimDB), TAP, and expressing of STC (and other data models) in VOTables. We reached out towards the German speaking astronomical community with a well-received splinter meeting at the annual meeting (AG Tagung) 2009, plus a GAVO-booth there. Current funding of GAVO (http://www.g-vo.org) is guaranteed until June 2011.



Korean VO


On May 11 we received word that the VAO, the operational successor to NVO, has been awarded $20M over the next five years. This is in addition to $7.5M from NASA, which funding began last fall. The NSF Cooperative Agreement is with the VAO, LLC (limited liability company), which was co-founded by AURA and AUI, the two major non-profit astronomy research organizations in the US. The period of funding is May 15, 2010 through April 30, 2015. Work has begun in earnest on processing subawards in the hopes of getting the US VO team re-engaged as quickly as possible.

The first meeting of the VAO Science Council was held on March 26-27 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The Council's report has been received and a formal response is in preparation. Both will be posted on the VAO's corporate website, http://www.aui.edu/vao.php.

Work has also begun on the VAO Program Plan. This document will define scientific and technical goals for the first year of VAO operations and will provide a broader long-term plan.




VObs.it has been funded by INAF in 2010 at the usual level, allowing to keep the level of staffing involved in VO activities.

A set of seminars called “VO-day ... in tour” were carried out in 12 Italian locations (plus a video conference with the “Galileo” centre in La Palma), between December 2009 and April 2010, to demonstrate the capabilities of the VO to the Italian community. 272 scientists (more than 1/4 of INAF research staff) registered to the events, and the responses to the questionnaire that was distributed were extremely positive. The initiative was carried out in the framework of the EuroVO-AIDA project, with the support of INAF, CINECA and the Universities of Padua and Naples “Federico II”. The “VO-day ... in tour” included demos and hands-on sessions applied to four use cases, plus contacts with students, teachers and amateurs to demonstrate the educational/outreach system (“AIDA-WP5”), built by VObs.it within the EuroVO-AIDA project.

VObs.it keeps active in the following areas: implementing prototypes related to the integration within the VO of theory data and revising the draft IVOA standards in the field; implementing embedded access to the grid as part of data centre services; developing VO-aware data mining tools; developing VO-enabled 3-D visualisation tools; studying and implementing ontology for the VO; preparing tools for access to the VO for educational/ outreach purposes.

The IA2 data centre, part of VObs.it, is finalising a VO-compliant LBT-wide archive, built in collaboration with Heidelberg and Tucson.


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

Applications WG

  • Standards activity *SAMP successfully implemented in Web environment without modifications to the standard.
    • Modest activity in definition/use of Mtypes.
      • Constrained resources, multiple loads, required responses, …
    • SAMP and Work flows (in GWS)
  • Plans
    • Two sessions for presentations of VO-enabled tools and services
    • One session attempting to look outside VO and astronomy boundaries.
      • Are there ways of doing things that we should look at?
      • Are there resources that we could adopt?
      • Not really limited to applications.
    • New roles for Apps?

Data Access Layer WG

  • TAP V1.0 has finally reached REC status following a lot of hard work by DAL folk worldwide. Special thanks are due to Pat Dowler along with all the authors and contributors to the standard. The DAL session will have talks based upon experience gained implementing TAP.

  • TAP/PQL has also moved forward with concrete experience being gained in prototype implementations. These will be further discussed during the Interop with examples shown in the Joint DM/DAL session, especially within the GDS/ObsDM query context.

  • Extensions to SSAP to cover Photometery and Filter Profile services are being refined and some modest work on Footprint Services has also been undertaken. These will be discussed in the DAL session.

  • SIA V2 is progressing with a Working Draft in production and 2D prototypes being developed. Again, these will be discussed in the DAL session.

  • Finally, the SLAP document has entered TCG Review and we hope it is promoted to REC when the review is complete.

More detailed information can be found here

Data Models WG

Observation Data Model Core Components :

A first draft for the description of the Observation data model Core Components was published in the focus team in January 2010. First implementations by CADC and ESO produce interesting feedback on the model. Lessons learned to be included in the next version of the draft after discussion in DM session 1 at Victoria Interop meeting.


A prototype data model proposition by ESAC discussed in March at the last Euro-VO AIDA meeting in Heidelberg. Draft currently written.

Characterisation version 2.0:

This new issue of the model is driven by the explicit description of Level 4, the simplification of the XML schema and of the Utype list. New classes include: Coverage Sensitivity maps, Resolution variation as maps or functions descriptions, etc.. Also discussed in this context: Prototype definition of a data linking container for accessing the data set: type of data format, mime-type, access url and access parameters. To be discussed in the context of Observation DM and OBS/TAP service implementations too.

Spectrum DM revision

For a better compatibility with SSA and SDM documents, inconstencies in Utypes and UCDs in the two documents were identified. Doug Tody, Jonathan McDowell are currently updating the documents to produce two new coordinated versions, still backward compatible.


Stand by due to lack of manpower

STC in VOTable with Utypes

Markus Demleitner revisited the note Referencing STC in VOTable and proposed Utypes for STC elements derived from the STC XML schema. Draft currenly under revision (DM+VOTable working groups).

MireilleLouys, May 15, 2010

Grid and Web Services Working Group

A fortuitous mixture of snatched moments and whimsy has meant that we are broadly on track with our specification schedule:
  • The TCG review period for Universal Worker Service (UWS) has ended but we are still awaiting (5/10) approval from a number of chairs, despite repeated coaxing, cajoling and badgering on the TCG list. This seems to be an increasingly common occurrence in the specification process and needs addressing.
  • The RFC period for Web Service Basic Profile has ended (4/28) with comments from just one individual which are being addressed. It is difficult to believe that this represents the tacit approval of the rest of the IVOA for this specification. Again we need to engage more comment and review from within IVOA on our specifications and within the specified timescales. A number of specifications have also garnered extensive comment outside of and after the review process - how should this be treated? It seems churlish to ignore it but the process is there for a purpose.
  • The RFC period for Support Interfaces (VOSI) has ended (5/14) with comments from two individuals which are being addressed. Again given that this is an integral part of the TAP specification, it is surprising that it has not garnered greater comment or review.
  • A new working draft of VOSpace 2.0 has been released (3/23) and reference implementations are being created at CADC, CDS and Caltech.
  • There has been some internal discussion about VOPipe.

Registry WG

The Registry WG has been nearly dormant in the last six months due to the availability of key participants:

  • The lack of US funding has severly limited the availability of the chair (Ray Plante) and its new vice chair (Gretchen Greene), for driving progress on working group activities.
  • The WG's vice-chair from last year, Aurelien Stebe, left ESA last fall.
  • Previously strong participation from AstroGrid, particularly from Kevin Benson, Paul Harrison, and Guy Rixon, has been cut back significantly to maintenance levels due the discontinued funding.
With the announcement of the US VAO award, US activity in this working group is expected to ramp up again.

We currently have three standards in progress:

  • VODataService, whose TCG review nominally ended May 15, still requires responses from most TCG chairs.
  • VOStandard (to be renamed), for registering information about standards is needed by other standard in progress, including VOSpace and VOSI. The first public WD release is ready though we will consider the name change before releasing it to the document repository.
  • RegSimpleDAL that defines the extension schemas for SCS, SIA, and SSA. It is still in internal draft form.

We have seen a growing importance for coordinating the operations of registries across the IVOA. This includes:

  • Coordinating the correction of problems with resource records and other troubleshooting
  • Creating additional validaters, particularly for the search interface.
  • Documenting our procedures and best practices
  • Developing recommended curation policies
We spend one session at the IVOA meeting discussing this effort.

Semantics/UCD WG

The Semantics WG has seen very little activity in the past six months, due to limited direct involvement from participants, and the absence of urgent pressing needs or new standard development.

However, there has been some work in the VOEvent WG related to semantics, and more recently in the Theory IG, for example.

We have one Semantics session planned during this meeting, where we will coordinate the interaction between the Semantics WG and other WG/IG as needed in the near future. The new version of the UCD list of words (updates on the existing list, backward compatible) will be submited as a PR.


The VOEvent WG will have two sessions in Victoria. It has been a busy half-year with well-attended sessions at the the Sapporo ADASS, the dotAstronomy meeting in Leiden and Eventful Universe in Tucson. Work is about 2/3 done on the VOEvent book, "Hot-wiring the Transient Universe". Discussions with many time domain projects, e.g., Williams and Seaman met with LOFAR staff in Amsterdam. LSST has released a VOEvent-aware iPhone app. Event messages continue to be distributed via SkyAlert, VO-GCN and other brokers. Bob Denny has released an open-source VOEvent Broker.

Work continues to finalize v2.0 of the VOEvent protocol with features:

  • SimpleTimeSeries in
  • STC Orbital Elements in
  • More general external
  • Datatypes for
  • Benefit from vocabularies
  • Tweaks and small enhancements
  • Formalize schema while keeping simple

Various future meetings - starting with several sessions at the SPIE next month in San Diego.


VOTable WG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

The DCP IG will be meeting during the Victoria Interop. Topics for discussion include data compression, linking between data and the astronomical literature, and the role of VO projects in long-term data preservation.

Theory IG

The work on SimDB and SimDAP documents has been slowed down because of the developments of services by the same bunch of people at several places. At our last telecon (March 25th) it was decided to maintain the priority on the service development to be able to test the several options on various platforms (e.g. unique universal identifiers for individual snapshots). This will contribute to improve the SimDB and SimDAP proposals.

VO-Paris has worked on the implementation of some pieces of the CharDM into the simulation DM. Most of the efforts have been concentrated on the development of new DB services. A note has been written by VO-Paris people to describe their testing implementation of SimDB for two fully different kinds of theoretical data (MHD simulations of star formation and modelling of Photo Dissociation Regions). This may lead to small changes in the Simulation DM

SVO has been working along three main lines: 1) several services with synthetic photometry for theoretical models has been developped. This services can be accessed from VOSpec that is also able to use the Filter Profile Service at LAEFF to properly understand the meaning of the given magnitudes ; 2) a service has been developed for astroseismology theoretical models ; 3) S3 : during 2009, it has been discussed in the two IVOA meetings (Strasbourg, May 2009, and Garching, Nov 2009) together with the posibilities of integration with other proposed approaches as SimDAP. All the discussions have lead to improvements in the protocol.

The main objectives for the Victoria meeting are :

  • finalizing the DM part of the SimDB proposal (called SimDM for Simulation Data Model) under the auspices of the DM WG. The recommandation process might start after the INTEROP
  • freezing of the main functionality of SimDAP to start testing on large-scale simulations services (common action of Gavo, VObs.It, USVAO, VO-France)
  • solving the convergence issue of S3 and SimDAP with face-to-face splinter meetings

Standing Committee on Standards & Processes

The IVOA Document Standards, Version 1.2, was approved by the IVOA Executive Committee as an IVOA Recommendation on 13 April 2010.

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