IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM27)

Thurs Apr 24 2008 @ 15.00-16.30 GMT




  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  2. Minutes of TM26
  3. Project Reports - Significant events only
  4. Review of Actions - [NW]
  5. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  6. WG and IG Updates - RW
  7. Review of WG/IG Chair Rotations - DD
  8. Term of IVOA Chair - DD
  9. Report of Assessment Committee - DD
  10. Final Approval of Documents and Stds Document - BH
  11. TCG Charter Status - RW, CA
  12. Review of 2008 Roadmap - RW
  13. Draft Policy on Inactive Members - DD
  14. Seaman Report of UTC - MO
  15. May Interop Status - FP
  16. Fall Interop Status - BH
  17. AOB
  18. Review of New Action Items

Reports from the Projects



We announced (1 Apr 2008) our release of the AstroGrid Desktop Suite : get it from http://www.astrogrid.org This was time to coincide with the UK National Astronomy meeting in Belfast.

After various prototypes over several years, this is the first release of a complete set of software and working services. From the user's point of view we released three applications that run on the desktop - VODesktop; Topcat; and AstroGrid Python - and provided links to other Euro-VO tools that interoperate seamlessly - Aladin, VOSpec, SPLAT-VO. We also link to other VO tools - NVO services, VOPlot, etc.

In the background we are operating a number of services - Registry, VOSpace, and Community - in several sites - and we have used our own DSA component to help UK data centres establish working data services. Of course VODesktop also provides access to the thousands of services worldwide



During the last 3 months, we have been looking for all kinds of funding possibilities. Although, supported by the LAMOST project, the China-VO is always active.

Currently, there are 4 topics from our group. The first one is VO-DAS, which will be released to the community in June with support of several big datasets including SDSS DR6 (BestDR6 and SegueDR6), TwoMASS and GSC 2.2.

The second one is a MatLab toolkit named AstroBox. We completed a PLASTIC module for MatLab so that it can work together with other VO tools. We plan to collect popular statistic and data mining algorithms into the AstroBox. So, astronomers can use it easily on MatLab platform.

The third one is LAMOST archive system. It is a long-term but core task for the China-VO.

And the forth work is development of a new version of FitHAS, the small FITS file DB importer.



The EuroVO-DCA project has performed a census of astronomical data centres in European countries. Information about the census objectives and the census questionnaire can be found here. More than 65 data centres in a total of 14 different countries have answered.

Two workshops about 'Theory in the VO' and 'Grid and the VO' were organised in the framework of the EuroVO-DCA project in MPE, Garching, by GAVO and and VObs.it (Trieste) respectively, with several participants from other VO projects. They led to interesting discussions, which will in particular be very useful in the definition of the SNAP protocol and for the Astro-RG Interest Group.

The Euro-VO Astronomical Infrastructure for Data Access (EuroVO-AIDA) project started on February 1st for a duration of 30 months. Detailed information on the project can be found in the project TWiki http://cds.u-strasbg.fr/twikiAIDA/bin/view/EuroVOAIDA/WebHome.

The Euro-VO project, in the framework of AIDA (Astronomical Infrastructure for Data Access), has launched a call for proposals for teams carrying out archival research or projects that could benefit from the Virtual Observatory concept. Successful applicants will receive support from EURO-VO astronomers in using the VO facilities and software to complete their projects. No direct funding is awarded in this programme, but support for travel to VO centres may be available if justified by the project. More details can be found at http://www.euro-vo.org/pub/fc/AIDA_call_2008.html.

The registration period for the Euro-VO Workshop on "How to Publish Data in the VO", to be held at ESO June 23 - 27, is now open. The workshop is geared towards data centres and large projects to enable them to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to publish catalogues, data products and other resources to the Virtual Observatory. More details can be found at http://www.euro-vo.org/dcaworkshop2008/

France VO

Since no France-VO report was posted on TM26 web page, this report summarizes the activities since the Exec face-to-face meeting held in Cambridge in September 2007 (FM25).

The annual meeting of France-VO was held in Paris on 26-27 November 2007, with ~60 participants. Most French Observatories were represented. The lively presentations (mostly in French) and discussions showed the variety of VO-compliant services in development or at maturity, of technical programs (interoperability standards, workflows) which are presently under way in France, and some examples of science usages.

Two topical meetings have also been organised under F-VO auspices:

  • the "Journées briques logicielles" (Software Bricks day), organised by Paris Observatory on 5 December 2007 for VO developers to discuss tools and good practice (30 participants).

  • a Planetology VO Workshop, organised by IPSL at Jussieu (Paris) on 13 December 2007, which allowed in particular useful discussions with ESA and the Europlanet European Network

The Action Spécifique Observatoires Virtuels France (ASOV, which is F-VO) has decided that the subject is now mature enough to organise one single AO in 2008 (instead of 2 previously). This AO was opened in December 2007 with a closing date on January 2008. The limited amount of money available will be used to support travel to Interops and to F-VO Working Group meetings, and some collaboration meetings. ASOV Scientific Council also evaluates proposed participation to Euro-VO Workshops (which are then supported on European funds managed by CNRS).

Work on Interoperability standards has continued at a high level and as explained above ASOV will continue to support French participation in the IVOA Interoperability meetings.

F-VO is also active at European level, in particular in the Coordination activities organised by the EuroVO-DCA project: active participation in the Theory and Grid Workshops organised on 7-11 April 2008 at MPE (Garching) respectively by GAVO and VObs.it and in the census of European data centres (22 data centres have answered). CDS organised in Strasbourg the kick-off meeting of the EuroVO-AIDA project (17 March 2008), and the bi-annual meeting of the VO-TECH project, which was also the first Euro-VO Technology Forum of the EuroVO-AIDA project (17-20 March). Paris Observatory, together with Lyon, Besançon and Strasbourg, is actively taking part in the evaluation of the framework for theory in the astronomical VO which is performed under GAVO responsibility in the frame of the EuroVO-DCA project.




We have successfully implemented the JVO portal system since 2008 March. Visit at http://jvo.nao.ac.jp/portal/. Anyone can access and dowload the observed data from more than 1,300 site in the world. More than 1 TBytes of data have already downloaded. We implemented a prototype for a workflow builder system based on the Taverna in order to easily construct data query and data analysis processes on a graphical user interface. Similar system has also been built in the UK, and we plan to compare our systems toward better, common system.

Some project members were invited to give talks on the virtual observatory in several international meetings. It should be noted that the Core-to-Core program members published 104 academic papers, incuding 8 invited talks. We were informed that the Core-to-Core program of the JSPS will continue its support to the JVO for the fiscal year 2008 (April 2008 to March 2009).

Korean VO




  • Management

  • Standards

  • VO-Science
    • The paper "Young stars and brown dwarfs surrounding Alnilam (eps Ori) and Mintaka (del Ori)" (astro-ph) has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

  • Participation in the EuroVO-DCA project
    • As part of the EuroVO-DCA project, SVO is leading WP6 ("Support to data centres from countries not participating in the project"). In this framework we organised a VO-Info Workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria on January 24-25th. More than 40 participants from Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Romania attended the workshop. More information can be found at: http://cds.u-strasbg.fr/twikiDCA/bin/view/EuroVODCA/Sofia_workshop_jan08
    • Participation in the workshops about 'Theory in the VO' and 'Grid and the VO' chairing the microsimulation session (Theory) and with three oral contributions (1 theory + 2 grid) .
    • SVO was also in charge of the coordination of the Census of Data Centres at national level.
  • Talks


The local arrangements for the May 08 Interop meeting in Trieste (May 18th to 23rd at the “Stazione Marittima” congress centre) are being completed. Info are available on the IVOA wiki (InterOpMay2008) and on the local Web site dedicated to the meeting (http://www.si.inaf.it/ivoa_interop_2008/). Most of the logistics have been settled, an upgrade to the wi-fi provided by the congress centre is being set up. The company providing the booking for participants has proven to be not completely adequate: potential participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

VObs.it has been funded by INAF for 2008, even though at an unsatisfactory level: there are funds to cover the May 08 Interop meeting, for travel and for two contracts related to VO activities (in Milan and in Teramo). Additional resources are received through the EU-funded projects (VO-Tech and VO-DCA).

A proposal was prepared to build an integrated e-infrastructure for astrophysics (centered on VObs.it and computing resources) as part of a roadmap for scientific infrastructures to be submitted to the national Ministry of Research (MIUR). The proposal was not supported by INAF and did not reach MIUR.

IA2 continues its collaboration with Heidelberg and Tucson to build a VO-compliant LBT-wide archive; a position for this work is being filled.

Work is continuing within the EU-funded VO-Tech and VO-DCA projects. Two workshops, on Theory in the VO and on Grid and the VO, were co-organised by INAF/VObs.it and MPE/GAVO in the framework of the VO-DCA project, and held back-to-back in Garching during the week from April 7th to 11th (http://www.si.inaf.it/eurovow2008/index.htm). The meetings were well attended (over 70 participants) and successful, judging by the interest evidenced in the discussions.


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

Applications WG

SAMP - Simple Applications Messaging Protocol is in a period of intense discussion within the lead authors of the specification. A draft document is expected to be posted for wider discussion in preparation for the SAMP sessions in Trieste.

A program of presentations of applications/tools/services is being prepared for the Trieste meeting. These presentations are intended to show and discuss implentations of VO standards.

Discussion on how to better communicate the capabilities of VO applications to the astronomy community is also being planned.

Data Access Layer WG

The DAL WG is actively involved the following areas:

  • TAP: In an effort to break the log jam of requirements on the Table Access Protocol, the standards definition work has been divided into two separate but bound efforts, one to address Parametrised querying (TAP/Param) and the second to address ADQL querying (TAP/QL). The TAP Wiki page here explains the rational, the process being followed and the experts active in each effort. It is expected that at the Trieste Interop papers and/or prototypes for TAP/Param and TAP/QL will be presented and discussions undertaken to identify common requirements and to start to draw together the two TAP halves. This latter may proceed quickly or slowly; that has yet to be discovered, but the process requires their eventual merging.

  • SIAP v2: Work on the scope, concept and interface has been undertaken and prototyping efforts from NVO and EuroVO are expected to be shown and discussed in Trieste.

  • SSAP V1.04: This document was made an IVOA Recommendation in February 2008. It represents the first of the DAL v2 standards and is considerably more comprehensive than the V1 standards. It is important we get this right and detailed review is essential. Effort will be made to put SIA2 at the level of SSA 1.04. N-D datasets will be considered as long as they have a spatial signature and WCS. Region search and WCS support will be enhanced. Relationships with Other DAL efforts and GWS will be clarified.

  • Footprint services: Much work has been undertaken defining Footprint services by both NVO and EuroVO, with prototype services available from a number of sources. Definition of the specification for a DAL Footprint Service Protocol has begun.

Interaction with Registry Working Group

We are especially interested in the Registry WG schema for Service Registration and the various Resource schemata as they present opportunities for DAL services to exploit.

Interaction with Grid and Web Services Working Group

VOSI is of particular importance to DAL services, especially Capabilities and Availability. By their nature, DAL services typically need monitoring by systems administrators, so the work on Availability will be most relevant.

Data Models WG (MireilleLouys)

From the last Interop in september 2007, the DM working group was involved in the following :
  • Spectral Line Model: identification of two levels of use-cases and definition of two packages with two levels of complexity and goals:
    1. Simple Spectral Line Data Model, focused on spectral lines recognition in observed spectra, and matching the requirements for tools like VOSpec and the SLAP protocol.
    2. Atomic and Molecular Line Data Model, (for observations and simulations), encompassing more general uses-cases for physics (fine descriptions of molecular physics, atmosphere, etc.). Both packages currently finalised, with description of the existing implementations.
  • Provenance DM and relationship with advanced levels of Characterization DM II.
  • Syntax definition of UTypes : on going

Interaction with the Theory IG :

  • Simulation DM ( numerical simulations), transfered to the DM group for dissemination in the IVOA and standardisation process. Planned the definition of guide-lines for building up models, automated generation for XML serialisations and documentation.

Models in action :

  • CAMEA : a user-friendly tool to help to publish observation datasets via their XML characterisation metadata.
  • Building up of an interactive mapper from data base columns to Characterisation Utypes in the case of ad hoc heterogeneous data sets in the SAADA environment.

Grid and Web Services Working Group (MatthewGraham)

The main activity for the GWS working group over the past few months has been VOSpace 1.1. A working draft of the specification, WSDL and schema was released on 16 January 2008. Reference implementations have been/are under development at Caltech, UCSD, JHU, Astrogrid and CDS. At least one of these (UCSD) also interfaces with the iRODS software from SDSC. There has also been work on the VOSpace usage document (Harrison, Morris) which describes the core metadata terms that we will be registering.

Members of the WG have been looking at security issues, including delegation (Rixon, Graham), particularly with a view to a more RESTful approach; and authorisation (Graham).

There has also been work on VOSI (Rixon) and CEA/UWS (Harrison).

Registry WG

Our primary effort has been in effecting the transition to the v1.0 standard for Registry Interfaces. We set a date of 21 April as the official start of v1.0 harvesting by which all nearly-ready registries should be ready by; all of those registries are now up and registered with the Registry of Registries (see http://rofr.ivoa.net/ for a list). Not included in this first round of compliant registries is the ESAC registry which we knew would require approx. 1 month of additional work. When this registry is ready, integration via the RofR should be transparent.

The start of v1.0 registry harvesting this week will allow us several weeks of experience harvesting the new records and to uncover any remaining problems that might be discussed at Trieste. We note that AstroGrid, with its recent product release, has been operating their registries at the v1.0 standard for some time now. Prior to this week, they have used kept a cache of v1.0 records that they converted themselves from the old format records from the registries that were not ready yet. The transition should be seemless.

The authors of the Outreach Metadata proposal, previously issued as an IVOA Note (http://www.ivoa.net/Documents/latest/AOIMetadata.html), have developed a revised version and have been actively engaging the outreach community for comments. This new version is currently be reformatted into a Working Draft. Once submitted to me, I will release it to the document repository, and develop a twiki discussion page. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed among alert IVOA people, and there is growing interest in this document (from Semantics and DM). The authors would like to encourage the development of prototypes and path-finder applications using this document. After a 6-month development period along with general discussion, we expect to hold a Registry WG session at the Baltimore IVOA meeting to discuss in detail the future of this document in the IVOA.

Now that the long-delayed upgrade effort is (nearly) behind us, we are interested in moving remaining documents through the process, and begin considering advanced discovery and harvesting techniques. An important leading issue is the mechanism for harvesting detail metadata about services from the services themselves.

Semantics/UCD WG

Vocabularies: A WD v1.0 on Vocabularies in the Virtual Observatory has been published recently (March 20, 2008). The WD is the result of a lively discussion, and it seems ready to move on to PR status in May. Cross-matching between vocabularies and use cases are the current open issues, and they will be debated in the coming InterOpMay2008.



VOTable WG

Astro-RG IG

  • The Astro-RG session will be held during the coming OGF23 meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Its schedule will be announced soon by the OGF program committee - see http://www.ogf.org.

Data Curation and Preservation IG

Theory IG

SNAP divided into 2 separate but llinked projects:

Simulation Database (SimDB) and Simulation Data Access Protocol (SimDAP). SimDB has had lots of activity, visible for now on http://volute.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/projects/theory/snapdm/. It is ready for promotion to "standardisation" process, likely in DM WG. An IVOA Note detailing the proposed project and describing its current status will be ready for Trieste, where this will be discussed further.

It might be interesting for the exec to discuss the process of how projects get turned into a standardisation project and who should be responsible. In particular the SimDB project has relations to other WGs: Registry, ADQL, DAL(TAP) Semantics. It suggests a structure where it is possible that small groups ("tiger teams") are created for standards development projects, that are not within the scope of a single WG. Such a group could act as a temporary WG and be made responsible for the whole process up to and including RFC of that project.

SimDAP is being restarted with Claudio Gheller and Rick Wagner as main drivers and we hope it to be ready to be moved up to standardisation status

-- NicholasWalton - 14 Jan 2008

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