IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (FM40)

Sunday May 15 @ 17.00-19:00 CET

Supplementary: Wednesday May 18 @ 13:00-14.30


Sunday meeting at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Via Moiariello 16 Napoli (best way to get there is by taxi)

Wednesday meeting in room B at the Interop venue

DRAFT Agenda FM40

  1. Roll Call and Agenda (MA)
  2. Minutes of TM39 (PP)
  3. Review of Actions
  4. Project Reports - Significant Events Only
  5. Report of the TCG meeting and TCG status (CA)
  6. Reports by WGs - WG Chairs
  7. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  8. Expiring WG Chairs and vice-Chairs
  9. ESO and the VO (FC)
  10. CSP review (DDY)
  11. Argentina VO (NOVA) status (PT)
  12. Australia-VO status (AW)
  13. Brasilian VO (BRAVO) status (AC)
  14. Large projects and the IVOA (PP, all)
  15. Possible new IVOA members (PP)
  16. October 2011 Interop (AK)
  17. Future Interops (All)
  18. Date of next meeting
  19. AOB
  20. Summary of Actions (MA)

Reports from the Projects

Argentina - NOVA



No significant update from last time. AstroGrid is no longer funded as an STFC line item, but the code, services and tools remain in use, and many members of the team continue to work on VO related EU or STFC funded projects (VOICE, VAMDC, Topcat) or undertaking VO duties as part of facility and data centre work (VISTA, ALMA, SDO, Gaia). We are exploring methods to formalise the currently loose sense of continuing consortium connections; this may continue the AstroGrid name, or may opt for a deliberate re-branding.



Bravo has resumed its activities recently, after several months of inactivity. One of our main activities was the organization of the 1st Brazilian Workshop on Astronomic Scientific Computing, which will be held in São Paulo from June 2nd to 6th, with about 100 participants, mostly students from all over the country. The program of the workshop can be found at http://sites.google.com/site/iwccastr/home. One great differential about this event is that we were able to get finantial support for all participants living outside São Paulo, which enable the participation of many graduate and undergraduate students that otherwise would not have the resorces to go.

We submitted a project to INCT-A last february called "Casos de Usuário" (Use Cases). The idea is to offer to any brazilian astronomer that has a "VO-like" project (it can be anything, from publishing data to developing online tools, etc.) the possibility to hire professional IT services to help them with their work. The project was recently approved, and we have about US$ 100k to start our activities.

Basically Casos de Usuário works as follows. A proposal must be sent to the Bravo commiitee containing the following:

1) Introduction (Science case) 2) Project description (Technical case) 3) Timeline 4) Quote from IT company or professional

The project will be evaluated by the committe. Actually, we see as one of the tasks expected from Bravo that we help the proponents to develop their project. To help future applicants, a sample project will be available in the Bravo website.

There are two Casos de Usuário already in execution:

1) Development of the Bravo Portal 2) Online databases of stellar and stellar population spectral models developed by NAT/Unicsul.

The next important step in to advertise Casos de Usuário and send a call for proposals to the Brazilian community.

We are starting to organize a VO School in Brazil in the first semester of 2012. The format of the event is still being discussed, but it will probably follow the format of EuroVO-School. Contacts are beeing made with other South American countries (Argentina, Chile, others?) to involve them in this school.

Finally, we are proposing that the october/2012 Interop meeting be held in Brazil.---


Robotic Autonomous Observatory (RAO) Network is determined as a cornerstone research field of the China-VO. The primary research field is astronomical archive and data sharing. Based on strong requirements for RAO from the domestic astronomical community, our years of experiences on astronomical databases, and strong links between VO and the RAO, we make the decision to take the responsibility to provide RAO solution and support for Chinese astronomers, educators and amateur astronomers. A trigger team is set up under the name China-RAON.

WWT Teachers Training 2011 is under preparation, which will be held on the grassland in Inner-Mongolia from July 22 to 26. The first training was organized in 2010 very successfully. Due to the limited manpower, one principle for VO projects’ education and public outreach should be training the educators. This is important for scaling up our effort in promoting new way of teaching and learning.

A proposal is submitted to the NSF China to develop Astronomical Data Manager (ADM, previously named FITS Manager), a tool to provide individual astronomers an efficient management and utilization of their local data, bringing VO to astronomers in a seamless and transparent way. Final result will be available in the 3rd quarter of the year.


AP services and put effort into optimising spatial joins for several common ways of providing input coordinates and writing queries. The size of uploaded tables is currently limited until we can resolve a scalability issue. The code to support uploads is part of the OpenCADC source code project.

The CADC has deployed operational VOSpace 2.0, CDP (Credential Delegation Protocol), and GMS (Group Membership Service) services to support data sharing and collaboration. The response from the community has been very positive despite the learning curve involved in IVOA SSO (X.509 certficates), credential delegation, and VOSpace itself.

The CADC is also providing cloud computing services to users, allowing them to maintain their own virtual machines and run then on various grid systems that support virtualisation. It remains unclear how much of this would be valuable as a future IVOA standard.




France VO





Over the course of the first year, we re-engaged the VAO collaboration and established lead roles and support teams for all of the science initiatives and underlying technical developments. This work involved definition and clarification of development, testing, and operational processes and procedures, requirements definition and analysis, and ongoing collaboration and coordination with VAO’s international partners in the IVOA regarding the standard protocols that support our product and service development and deployment. We established processes for requirements and design reviews for all major development activities, formal quarterly reviews for all task areas, and a schedule for weekly telecons and WebEx meetings for all work areas. Two face-to-face team meetings were held (Charlottesville, Virginia, fall 2010, and Tucson, Arizona, spring 2011). VAO team members attended the IVOA Interoperability (“Interop”) workshop in December 2010 (Nara, Japan) and will be attending the upcoming Interop meeting in May 2011 (Naples, Italy). Two meetings of the VAO Board of Directors were held (July 2010, February 2011); the latter included a discussion with N. Sharp (NSF) and T. Lanz (NASA). We also supported an external audit (by BDO USA, LLP) for our expenditures through 30 September 2010 (with no significant findings), an NSF-chartered desk review (January-February 2011), and an NSF financial site visit (March 2011).

All planned milestones for the first year were met except one: development of a work plan for Education and Public Outreach in collaboration with partners. This was missed because we were only able to hire a properly qualified lead for the VAO EPO program until March 2011. At this point we have just one position that remains to be filled, which is a test engineer at NOAO.

A major effort for the fall of 2010 was in preparing an exhibit booth for the January 2011 American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle. AAS meetings are a key venue for sharing the capabilities of the VAO with the research community, and a prime mode of collecting inputs from the community regarding their needs and expectations. The AAS exhibit preparation was led with great proficiency by the User Support group (led by B. Stobie, NOAO), with excellent logistical assistance from our Business Manager (M. Huffman, AUI). The User Support team also created and deployed a new VAO web site, reorganized the team wiki site, took over management of the IVOA document directory and wiki site, developed (in collaboration with Operations and Product Development) a VAO testing process, and deployed an issue tracking system (JIRA) and user support services.

The VAO Operations team focused on deployment and support for the internal services needed for team communication, software management, and document management. Operations also runs monitoring services to make sure the distributed system of VO services is running properly and that services are compliant with VO standards; we contact service providers when problems are identified and advise providers on how to make repairs. The Subversion (SVN) source code repository and configuration management system was deployed and is now in routine use; a Configuration Management Board has been established to review/approve software and documentation for general release. Logging of VO service usage at all VAO organizations was re-established. Dedicated hardware for supporting VAO application and service testing has been procured by NOAO.

The User Support team completed two key documents, Standards and Guidelines for Testing and VAO Documentation Plan. These establish the framework for the software testing process and the standards for VAO documentation, particularly those intended for end-users. A helpdesk service was established (based on a web form linked from the VAO home page) that generates issues in the JIRA system. Quality assurance and testing leads were identified for all of the major science initiatives. A continuous integration, build, and test environment—Hudson—was selected for deployment and is being set up on four virtual machines (Windows 7 and three versions of Linux). A VAO User Forum is in development; this will enable direct communication among VAO users and provide a publicly accessible problem/solution database. We will also publish a VAO newsletter starting this summer.

The Product Development group established development teams for all science initiatives and supporting development projects, and established software development processes that provide a common framework and approach to development across our distributed team. Varying levels of progress were made on the specific science deliverables. The Spectral Energy Distribution project has a mature set of requirements and is making good progress toward its incremental and final milestones. The VAO Portal project has completed its requirements and design reviews and is proceeding with implementation. The Scalable Cross-Comparison service has been designed, and performance studies have been carried out in order to determine optimal hosting strategies for the source catalogs. We have also experimented with implementations based on GPUs, which can improve performance by a factor of 10 or more. The Interoperable Time Series Access project has successfully imported time series data from the Harvard Time Series Center into the NASA Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED) at IPAC for periodogram analysis. The VAO-IRAF Integration project is, per schedule, just getting underway.

The Data Curation and Preservation (DC&P) team held meetings with key partners: the NSF DataNet-funded program, the Data Conservancy, the American Astronomical Society (AAS), representatives of the AAS’s publishing service provider, the Institute of Physics, and our colleagues in other major data centers. As the VAO’s DC&P program is inherently a collaborative and distributed effort, these initial contacts are an essential first step. Considerable progress was also made in developing ontologies to enable integrated search of bibliographic references, astronomical objects, and the associated underlying data. A prototype search and exploration interface was demonstrated at the Seattle AAS meeting.

The Standards and Protocols (S&P) efforts were concentrated on those activities needed to support our Year 1 science deliverables, i.e., spectral energy distribution (SED) data model, spectrum data model, photometry data model, and SED data access protocol in support of the SED tools, and a time series data model and data access protocol in support of the integrated time series access service. These efforts all build on well developed predecessors. The VAO Portal will utilize the IVOA standard Table Access Protocol (TAP) and a nearly final ObsTAP protocol that standardizes essential metadata about collections of observations. Closure is near at hand as well, for V2.0 of the VOEvent specification for transient event notices and V2.0 of the VOSpace standard interface to distributed (remote) storage.

The Technology Assessment (TA) lead completed three studies: collaborative meeting tools, instant messaging, and collaborative scheduling tools. All were clearly aimed at facilitating and improving communication in our distributed project team. We adopted WebEx for e-meetings and set up a Skype chat room for informal team communications.

Several initial assessments and studies were begun in the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) area in advance of the hire of an EPO lead and content manager at STScI. This position was filled in March 2011 by B. Lawton. These advance studies on how astronomical data sets are used, and can be more effectively utilized in educational settings, and on how astronomy and technology topics are most effectively incorporated into the secondary education curriculum, will allow us to identify some strategic partners and develop some initial programs. We will continue to work closely with Microsoft Research and the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) product, with its two-million-user installed base, as an education and outreach vehicle.




VObs.it was funded by INAF for 2011 to a level slightly higher than the previous years. This allows the current activities to be continued smoothly.

The May 2011 Interop was organised in Naples, with the support of the University of Naples "Federico II" both from the rsources and logistic points of view. VObs.it staff also supported the EuroVO school in Strasbourg in March.

Work has been mainly concentrating on the use of the VO for educational purposes, with the creation of new use cases and the upgrade of the tools. Work has progressed on the VO-Dance resources publishing tool, and on the creation of a portal for the population of VO-compliant theory archives using distributed computing (gLite grid). Furthermore, VObs.it provided VO-compliant access to the Planck Early Release Catalogue through the IA2 data centre.


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

Applications WG

SAMP: At Nara a presentation was made of the "Web Profile", a hub interface suitable for browser-based SAMP clients, which cannot easily use SAMP in its existing form. This would enable web applications to participate in SAMP communications in the same way that desktop tools can. There was agreement that this should be pursued with a view to absorbing it into the SAMP standard, though some outstanding issues about security were noted.

A new Working Draft has just been released (WD-SAMP-1.3-20110512) incorporating the Web Profile. Implementations exist for most aspects of this document. We will discuss this draft at this meeting, and in particular we will attempt to reach agreement on the security issues. If this is successful, we hope to move towards Recommendation status for SAMP 1.3 in the second half of 2011.

Application Registration: We are in the early stages of dicussions of how VO users do discovery of applications and services, in the SAMP context in particular, but also more generally. E.g., we may want some kind of Apps store. This certainly involves the Registry group and may ultimately involve GWS as well.

Data Access Layer WG

We are nearing the end of the RFC period for SSA-1.1 (a minor revision) with no issues raised. This standard will be brought to the executive for approval in the near future.

Current work to be discussed at the Naples Interop include:

TAPRegExt-1.0 A working draft has been circulated within the WG and will be reviewed during the interop.

DALI-1.0 No progress since the last interop, but this will be actively discussed.

PQL-1.0 No progress, but this will be actively discussed.

SSA-1.2 Now that work on SSA-1.1 is complete and work on SpectrumDM-1.2 is well underway, this important part of the SED use cases from the science priorities committee can proceed.

Data Models WG

  • Photometry modeling :
WD-PhotDMv0.3 issued and discussed in the Working group. To discuss during this Interop: how to bring together complementary documents: PhotDMv0.3 , Spectrum1.2, and SED DM.

S. Derriere issued a new version for "Note on serializing photometric data measurements in VOTable" using the PhotDMv1-1 concepts for source catalogs.

  • SpectrumDM
  • v1.1 :updates for alignment with SSA v1.1: done. Short RFC (15 days ) started on May 4.

  • v1.2 : draft issued in January by Jonathan McDowell
    • expands Spectrum1.1
    • contains Photometry metadata re-used from the note on Photometry point and the photometric calibration defined in PhotDMv1-1
    • contains TimeSeries examples circulated on the DM list

  • ObsCore DM v1.0
Proposed recommendation started 03rd of May and published on DAL/DM. Implementations going on at CADC, with lessons learned to be discussed at this interop.

  • Characterisation DM v2.0 Working draft currently edited. This document expands previous version of CharDM and define support for:
    • polarised data,
    • Redshift axis
    • variability along the characterisation axes (level4)
    • composed data

  • Utypes Note
Still pending- currently needed to publish new DM and their Utype list. Summary of current usage and definition rules at DM3 (M.Louys) and possibly discussion in splinter meetings.

  • Simulation DM :
Proposed Recommendation issued on May 3 and currently discussed. Implementation Note to finalise.

Grid and Web Services Working Group

  • Web Services Basic Profile (WSBP) became a Recommendation just after Nara and the updated document was recently uploaded.

  • IVOA Support Interface (VOSI) has completed its TCG review and been presented to the Exec for approval.

  • Further updates have been made to VOSpace 2.0 post-Nara as a result of continuing implementation experiences - a new WD will be created post-Naples and then to PR

  • A new (first official) version of REST Basic Profile will be out post-Naples

  • Discussions this week on UWS 1.1 and authorization

Registry WG

The registry working group is focussed on addressing multiple proposals for additions to standards extensions. There will be two sessions at this meeting to talk about proposed recommendation and working draft.

Current work to be discussed at the Naples Interop include:

StandardsRegExt-1.0 This standard replaces the VOStandard and has completed the RFC period. Discussions will take place during the interop meeting and shortly following this rec will move to the TCG period.

SimpleDALRegExt WD This is document for simple DAL extensions description and has been uploaded to the document repository for working group review. There were discussions in the TCG meeting to address alternate DAL extensions.

ApplicationsRegExt Will be discussed in a joint session with the Applications working group. This overlaps with discussion on App Store concepts and may have usage related to SAMP, however further discussion is required.

There also will be presentations and discussion related to validation and curations of the registry.

Semantics/UCD WG

The Semantics session on wednesday will discuss these points :

Vocabularies PoolParty has been used by the Theory IG to develop vocabularies (F. Le Petit, N. Moreau, N. Gray).

Units Comprehensive review of all IVOA standards has been done to identify where and how Units are curently used in the VO (S. Derriere). Updates to the VOUnits document will be presented during the Naples interop, and we will identify the current consensus, then move to the Rec process. Feedback to some of the documents currently in RFC is also needed.

Annotations Semantic annotations in web documents can be used quite easily to enhance the contents. Try to create a group of people willing to define recommendations for these annotations in the VO, and develop new applications.

Linked Data Work is done in coordination with DCP IG on the Long Term URIs and Linked Data (N. Gray).


Current WG activities focus on promoting VOEvent 2.0 PR from RFC to TCG review to put it up for Exec review in the near future. VOEvent community activities are manifold and ongoing to reach the larger time domain astronomy community.

VOTable WG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

Knowledge Discovery in Databases IG

Theory IG

* The RFC period for the Simulation Data Model (http://wiki.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/viewauth/IVOA/SimRFC/PR-SimulationDataModel-v.1.00-20110428.pdf) has been opened on May 4th by DM Chair, after updates and modifications according to comments on the TIG and DM lists in March-April.

* Discussions on SimDAL, including the TAP implementation, and the SimDB proposal will be resumed at the next INTEROP. These are the main and urgent efforts for the future since SimDM is close to recommendation.

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