IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM29)

Thurs Aug 07 2008 @ 15.00-16.30 GMT




  1. Roll Call and Agenda NW
  2. Minutes of FM 28 and FM 28S
  3. Project Reports Significant Events Only
  4. Review of Action Items NW
  5. Approval of New IVOA Recommendations Standing Item
  6. WG and IG Updates CA
    • TCG Charter Status DD, CA
    • TCG Technical Assessment and Roadmap DD, CA
    • DAL Activities at US-NVO RH
    • VOTable Update and Action RH
    • Other WG and IG Activities
  7. Informal/Exec Committees DD
  8. Fall Interop Status Report RH
  9. Spring Interop Venue and Planning
  10. Date of Next Exec Meeting
  11. AOB
  12. Review of New Action Items

Reports from the Projects



AstroGrid is in a peculiar but interesting position. As you know from the last meeting, we made a major release of a full working set of services together with user software, the AstroGrid Desktop Suite, in April this year. (available at http://www.astrogrid.org/). This has been very successful. To date, the user software has been downloaded 1462 times, and we have 905 registered users. All the services are being used, and as an example, we are getting roughly 3-400 registry queries per day.

Meanwhile, as you all know, we have been the victim of STFC funding problems. Our current funding was for the calendar years 2008-9, with the expectation that we would apply for longer term operational funding during 2009. Unfortunately the STFC programmatic review resulted in a decision to close this funding early. (Despite the best efforts of many of our IVOA colleagues in the consultation period !). However, STFC officials recognise that the VO is not going away, and that there is a likely benefit in some kind of shared data management approach for their facilities, missions, and data centres. They are therefore encouraging us to make a new reduced cost proposal with a changed focus, centred explicitly round the requirements of UK facilities, but also integrating as much as possible with our European colleagues. The signs are good but not guaranteed, as this needs to go through peer review of course.

We are currently negotiating with STFC over the ramp down profile of the current AstroGrid-3 project, but we will certainly keep going until April 2009, and may just be able to start a new project by then. Our priority is therefore to minimise new functionality, and to complete, robustify, document, and "gift wrap" the AstroGrid software, so that it makes a legacy software suite that can be deployed as easily as possible by other projects. (The minimum new functionality is that set by IVOA and Euro partner commitments). Meanwhile, the consortium will continue to run services using this software (Registries, VOSpaces, Communities, etc) for as long as possible, even if the new proposal fails.

Our intention therefore is that "AstroGrid" completes and leaves a product; then we make a fresh start with a new project, that uses that product amongst other things. The intended new project has both a European and a UK aspect. With our European colleagues, we intend to formalise the creation of the "VOTC" concept. The VOTC will not run its own "shop window" but rather will concentrate on delivering technical infrastructure for others (DCA and VOFC partners) to use. Meanwhile we will propose to STFC to create a project which will probably be called "VOTC:UK". This will deliver a core UK contribution to VOTC, but will also explicitly work with UK facilities, missions and data centres to supply their requirements, develop new tools, and run shared services. The idea is that there will be a core team, combined with a penumbra of workers from each of those facilities etc, who will work on joint projects. All this should get fleshed out more following a key meeting with those facilities and data centres in September.

Scary but interesting times !





France VO




Korean VO


In coordination with our IVOA partners, the transition to V1.0 of the Registry Interfaces was implemented in April. The transition was carefully planned so that all groups deployed the new services in synchrony. Harvesting and replication are now working routinely, and the new registry is being used in support of the NVO data discovery portal.

All components of the data discovery portal have been tested separately and as working together, with results from one component being forwarded to others as appropriate. The new registry interfaces caused some of the components to break, owing to changes in the way VO services with multiple access methods are represented in the registry. These problems were largely resolved in this quarter, and a scientific testing team has been assembled.

Efforts within the team are increasing in the area of operations, with routine testing of registered VO services and feedback to service providers whose cone search or SIAP functions are failing or not fully compliant with VO standards. Service providers are typically very responsive in correcting problems. A comprehensive review of all NVO software products was conducted this quarter and discussed at the NVO team meeting (June 30/July 1) in Estes Park, CO. All libraries, tools, and applications have been assessed for the quality of documentation, the extent of testing, and their utility for the VO in the long term.

As a result of extensive discussions at the IVOA Interoperability Meeting in Trieste, Italy in May, progress was made on the Table Access Protocol (TAP) and Astronomy Data Query Language (ADQL). TAP is a much more general table and catalog search interface than the simple cone search, and will provide much needed capabilities for querying and comparing complex databases. TAP will accept ADQL queries and will also have a parameter-based interface for simplicity of implementation and greater similarity to existing data access protocols. The ADQL specification underwent revision following the RFC period and is now pending IVOA Exec review. Two partial drafts of the TAP protocol will be merged, and the NVO team will be building several prototypes in order to validate the interface specification prior to the October IVOA Interop meeting.

Preparations for the September NVO Summer School, the fourth to be offered, are nearing completion. Applications were received from over 60 people and 50 were accepted (the applicant pool was excellent this year). The overall program has been prepared and work was nearing completion on updating the software packages and tutorials.

A second Newsletter was distributed to the NVO community mailing list in June. Use of NVO tools in the astronomy community continues steady or increasing, with over 27 million hits on NVO websites and 168,000 user sessions thus far this year.

For a full report of activities in the period April-June 2008, please see http://www.us-vo.org/pubs/files/FY08Q3.pdf.





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

Nothing to report at this time.

Theory IG

-- NicholasWalton - 05 August 2008

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