IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM31)

Thursday Feb 19 2009 @ 18.00-19.30 GMT




  1. Roll Call and Agenda -­ NW
  2. Minutes of FM 30 and FM 30S
  3. IVOA Deputy Chair - FP
  4. Project Reports ­- Significant Events Only
  5. Review of Action Items ­ NW
  6. Approval of New IVOA Recommendations ­ Standing Item
  7. Report by committees - DDY
    • Newsletter
    • Liaison Group
    • Take-up Group
  8. TCG status - CA
  9. Prospective New Members – Update – FP
  10. Spring Interop Status Report – FG
  11. Fall Interop Status Report – PP
  12. Venue of Spring 2010 Interop
  13. Date of Next Exec Meeting
  14. Proposal for new Data Mining IG
  15. AOB
  16. Review of New Action Items

Reports from the Projects



During October-January we released minor updates of VODesktop, Topcat, and AstroGrid Python. All these tools are being well used. Over two thousand copies of VODesktop have been downloaded since the main release in April. As described in October, AstroGrid will formally close as a development project later this year; however the AstroGrid consortium will keep the main tools, services, and software components maintained and running indefinitely, regardless of the success or otherwise of VOTC:UK.

Slow but definite progress has been made planning the post-AstroGrid future. A "Statement of Interest" to create VOTC:UK was submitted in November by 39 co-Is representing 30 facilities, missions and data centres. It would combine a VO Technology "core team" with effort by already funded facilities and missions (i.e. VISTA, Herschel, XMM, etc). Rather than agreeing on a single grand public face, we would share data management infrastructure (e.g. Registry, VOSpace, API, service configuration tools), and encourage each mission etc to build its own UI, tools etc focused on its own needs and user community. VOTC:UK is seen as a component of a Europe-wide VOTC, and we welcome international collaboration on the data management infrastructure. (Use of IVOA standards is guaranteed !)

The proposal is under review by a sequence of STFC committees, which of course is slow, making it hard to maintain a continuity between AstroGrid and VOTC:UK.



On January 4, 2009, the first working day in the year, Center for Information and Computing (CIC) of headquarter of National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) was established. The new formed CIC will be act as the lead and planner of IT related businesses, including China-VO and LAMOST database system, of headquarter of NAOC. The main businesses fields of the CIC include daily maintenances of NAOC network and computer systems, public IT infrastructure managements (servers, data storages, etc), release of important astronomical news and events, NAOC customer support, construction of a computing-astrophysics center, and e-Science research. Currently, the CIC is managed by Dr. Chenzhou CUI.

Collaboration between China-VO and Microsoft Research basing on WWT has gotten great progresses. At the 10th anniversary Faculty Summit of Microsoft Research Asia on Nov. 3rd, a new version of the WWT with Chinese user interface was presented, which is the first release with other language except English. A “Best Demo Award” was granted to our collaboration. Currently, deeper localization project for WWT is undergoing. A China community and a mirror system for WWT are also planned. Furthermore, MSR and NAOC are working together on IYA 2009 activities, especially on live webcast project for total solar eclipse on July 22nd.

China-VO 2008, the 7th nation-wide VO annual workshop was held in Taiyuan from Nov. 27-30 with the title of “VO-enabled LAMOST and furthers”. About 60 peoples attended the workshop, and 28 talks and 3 discussions were presented, which made the China-VO 2008 to be the largest one in the history of the China-VO annual meetings.


Data Engineering

Data engineering and the hosting of astronomical data remains our core activity. We are currently preparing our primary collections to use the Common Archive Observation Model (CAOM) as the primary metadata repository. Existing services will be ported to this model in the next few months and all new CVO services will be built on the CAOM model.


The main operational services in the CVO project are our suite of SIA services (7 collections and 1 global CADC). These services provide access to 240,000 observations, 3 million "simple" images in SIA terms - about 40GB of fully calibrated data products. Since many of these images are from large mosaic cameras, we support on-the-fly extraction of extensions from multi-extension FITS files and image cutouts in all of these services.

We are continuing development of our prototype TAP service with full support for all operations. In addition, CVO is an active participant in the development of the TAP specification.

Future Directions

In the near future we will be implementing SSA services for several collections, including both archival spectra and spectral extraction from datacubes. We will also be receiving catalogues from our data providers and survey teams and making them available via TAP, including source catalogues from our main imaging collections and 3-D clump catalogues extracted from datacubes (from JCMT). As part of the CANFAR project, we will be implementing other data processing services based on UWS and working on using virtualization to help astronomers use grid resources in a flexible fashion.


The EuroVO-DCA Coordination Action of the Sixth Framework Programme has been closed on 31 December 2008, after 28 months of successful activities, in particular the organisation of Workshops (two Data Centre Workshops, organised at ESA and ESO respectively, a community feedback workshop on Spectroscopy and VO, and two companion Euro-VO Theory and Grid Workshops), the production of a Census of European Data Centres, of a medium-term strategy document for the data centre alliance, of a document on the "Framework for inclusion of Theory data and services in the VO", which reports in particular on the work accomplished on theory-related standards, sucessfull activities for coordination with the computational Grid, and intense activity in support of data centres in other European countries.

The final documents of the project (census, medium term strategy and framework for theory) will be made available after the final project review.

The EuroVO-AIDA project is continuing its activities. Among the highlights:

  • Activities in support to users include in particular a Workshop "Multiwavelength astronomy and the VO", which was held at ESAC on 1-3 December 2008, and a "Hands-on Workshop" which will be held at ESO 30 March - 2 April 2009.
  • The third Euro-VO Technology Forum will be held in Strasbourg 16-19 March. It will be a forum for discussion on EuroVO-AIDA technology-oriented activities: Interoperability standards, led by AstroGrid; Data Access Protocols and Data Models, led by ESA; and Assessment of new technologies, led by CDS (which includes Web 2.0 for data centres - CDS -, semantics - INAF - and data mining - Univ. of Edinburgh). The very active Outreach activities (led by INAF) will also be presented.
  • The ESAVO Registry has now become the EURO-VO Registry
  • The next AIDA Workshop on How to publish data in the VO will be organised at ESAC on 22-26 June.

The EuroVO-VOTECH project has been given a six month extension. We are producing some final reports and working towards defining a persisting VO Technology Centre (VOTC).

France VO

The Action Spécifique Observatoirs Virtuels France (ASOV, which is the F-VO) held it annual meeting in Paris 12-13 November 2008, followed by a day devoted to splinter meetings on 'software bricks for the VO', Workflows, and Planetary Sciences. The meeting has as usual ilusstrated the different strands of work in France: Working groups on specific topics (e.g. Theory, which has been working in close collaboration with the relevant activity of EuroVO-DCA; Planetary sciences, which is now strongly linked to the Europlanet project; Workflow; Grid), VO implementation by laboratories, technical work on VO standards and support to implementation (SAMP, registry).

An EGEE tutorial has been organised in Meudon on 10-12 December 2008, with ASOV support (Paris Observatory is the national contact point for computing Grid usage in astronomy). A Workflow workshop was held in Paris on 14 January 2009, and a meeting of the Geodesy and Fundamental Astronomy Working Group on 5 December 2008 in Paris.

French VO teams continue to participate actively in the development of the IVOA standards, with significant participation in the Baltimore Interoperability meeting. CDS will organise the next Interoperability meeting in Strasbourg (24-29 May 2009).

Active participation in Euro-VO projects (EuroVO-DCA, EuroVO-AIDA, VO-TECH), has continued, with other European projects emerging as powerful drivers for national activities in planetary studies (Europlanet), solar physics (HELIO). The FP7-I3 VAMDC project (15 legal partners, 21 teams from 6 EU countries, 3 ICPC and USA as external partners), currently under negociation with the EU, aims at building an e-infrastructure for the exchange of atomic and molecular data. It is coordinated by ML Dubernet (LPMAA, UPMC) who has been supported by F-VO for many years. VAMDC will interact with the wider development of the underlying infrastructures, thus EGEE and the Euro-VO, and also participate in relevant standardisation activities such as the International Virtual Observatory Alliance, to ensure continued interoperability of VAMDC resources with related e-Infrastructures.




Korean VO


In October 2008 the NVO Project began operating solely on carry-forward funding from the previous fiscal year. Our budget estimates indicate that we will be able to continue work at a reduced level for approximately six months. We have reprioritized work and attempted to match development goals to the remaining resources. Our top priorities are to complete work on the NVO data discovery portal (essentially done, with the tools and interfaces undergoing testing as the quarter came to a close), follow through on commitments to the international VO standards process, and support and maintain the software and tools in use. To be frank, however, it is a very difficult period for the project team. The uncertainty surrounding future support is creating morale problems, and management is concerned that experienced people will be lost from the project team. Several organizations have prepared, or already had to carry out, staff reductions owing to the severely constrained budget. Efficiency and productivity have decreased as team members have had to spend more of their time on other projects.

The Astronomical Data Query Language (ADQL) specification was finalized at the Baltimore Interop meeting and endorsed as a full Recommendation by the IVOA Executive.

Substantial technical progress was made on the Table Access Protocol (TAP) specification, which was discussed in detail at the fall IVOA Interoperability meeting in Baltimore. Unfortunately, little progress has been made since early December. Senior members of the NVO team are working with our IVOA partners to help get the process going again.

The IVOA Grid and Web Services Working Group completed RFC periods for the VOSpace V1.1 specification and the Credential Delegation Protocol. VOSpace V1.1 supports transparent access to distributed storage systems, and the Credential Delegation Protocol supports hand-off of user authentication from one VO service to another.

The major development effort in the past quarter focused on completing and testing the data discovery portal components, their integration, and their presentation via a new home page for NVO. Astronomers outside the core NVO team were asked to evaluate the tools and their organization, and their feedback was immensely helpful. The new tools and website will be made available to the astronomy community in the next quarter.




VObs.it has been funded by INAF for 2009, at (the usual) unsatisfactory level: funds are however enough to cover travel and four contracts related to VO activities (in Milan, Naples, Teramo and Trieste). Additional resources are received through the EU-funded projects (VO-Tech and EuroVO-AIDA).

A MoU is being prepared to formalise the on-going collaboration across Italy regarding VO activities within VObs.it: the document is expected to be signed by INAF, ASI, CINECA and the Universities of Padua and Naples (“Federico II”).

The IA2 data centre continues developing a VO-compliant LBT-wide archive, in collaboration with Heidelberg and Tucson; the staffing level for this activity is appropriate.

The ASI Science Data Centre (ASDC) received from ASI (through INAF) some resources which will be used for the integration within the VO of ASDC data (mostly acquired by high-energy space missions).

VObs.it staff is coordinating the A&A “cluster” within the EU-funded EGEE-III project, with the purpose of porting on the grid application software of astrophysical interest. VO-enabled codes are high in the priorities.

Most of the VObs.it work is performed in the framework of Euro-VO, within the EU-funded projects. EuroVO-DCA came to an end in Dec 2008; VO-Tech will last until June 2009 and EuroVO-AIDA until end 2010. Within these projects VObs.it is active in:

  • 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.

VO-Neural/DAME, built in collaboration between the University of Naples “Federico II” and CALTECH within the VO-Tech framework, is available at http://voneural.na.infn.it/

VisIVO has been ported to different platforms (Windows, Mac) and implemented in “server” mode. The code is available in the download area of http://visivo.cineca.it/


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

Applications WG

The SAMP document has been through RFC. The major issue that came up in the review was how the vocabulary of messages was to be disseminated and maintained. Interests were ease of access, a definitive location for the standard vocabulary, and the ability to easily publish new messages of both general and specialized interest. The agreed solution was to modify the existing Twiki pages, making them accessible through a simpler and more permanent URL, http://ivoa.net/samp. The alias has been set up and a document noting this, and with other small editorial changes has been placed in the document repository (V1.11) and we are now ready for final approval through the TCG. This should begin immediately. This process should start immediately.

Data Access Layer WG

  1. TAP continues to receive rigorous and detailed examination and debate. The latest revision from the capable hands of Pat Dowler has provided a basis upon which we believe we can make substantial progress. It is a measure of the importance of this standard that it receives such focus within DAL. I believe we are close to finalising this document.
  2. SIAv2 core group continues working on first draft specification. F. Bonnarel is currently sketching this first draft to upgrade SIA to the same level of SSAP. This first draft would be the starting point for open discussion.

Data Models WG

  1. Uptake of the Characterisation DM: Examples using variability and sensitivity maps are currently developped (LERMA, CDS collaboration) for SDSS spectra, and resolution variability in images.
  2. Utypes : working draft started very recently by M.Louys
  3. Units : the working draft initiated by A. Richard is currently circulating in the WG
  4. Photometry DM: Within the AIDA WP7 discussions, a meeting was held between ESAVO and SVO representatives to set the grounds for the representation of photometry metadata within the VO realm. UML sketch in preparation.

Grid and Web Services Working Group

The VOSpace 1.1 and Credential Delegation Protocol specifications have completed their RFC periods. There were no outstanding issues with either but the CDP requires a reformatting at the request of one of the authors. It is intended that the TCG review period for these will be in March. In parallel, we will start the definition of the much requested RESTful VOSpace 2.0 with the group of interested parties that we identified in Baltimore.

Registry WG

The Registry Interfaces document went through RFC; it is currently under revision in response to comments. The major item being added is the "drop-in" specification of ADQL 1.0 which is not a stand-alone standard. VODataService is our next document to be put to RFC; final revisions are underway to finalize inclusion of table metadata.

Semantics/UCD WG


The Hotwired II workshop will be held at UC Santa Cruz from 26-30 April (http://www.cacr.caltech.edu/hotwired2). Registration is open. Agenda should resemble Hotwired I (can click through from links page). The working group will also use the workshop to focus its efforts on VOEvent v2.0 and related work such as vocabularies and defining VOEventStreams for the registry. We've started a wiki page to collect these discussions (http://wiki.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/view/IVOA/VOEventTwoPointZero). -- RobSeaman - 17 Feb 2009


VOTable WG

The final version of VOTable1.2 document should come out soon for RFC.
FrancoisOchsenbein - 19 Feb 2009

Astro-RG IG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

Theory IG

The SimDB core development team is close to be complete (one representative of Regsitry WG missing). Discussions are going to be resumed. Two SimDAP prototypes for testing purposes will be available by the end of February. SimDAP note in progress. S3 note (published just before Baltimore interop) still waits (and needs) for comments on the theory mailing list.

Standards & Processes

The RFC on the updated IVOA Documents standard (V1.1) brought numerous comments, and the document was reversed to Working Draft. The new version (V1.2), is posted for two weeks and a new formal RFC will be open at the beginning of March.

In particular, the Documents standard has been merged with the IVOA Note "Guidelines and Procedures for IVOA Document Standards Management V1.0", and the document numbering schema has been updated, after a lively discussion within the TCG. Following the new numbering schema, the current WD is called WD-DocStd-1.2-20090114.html.

-- NicholasWalton - 14 Feb 2009

Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
PDFpdf Bruch-oficio.pdf r1 manage 392.0 K 2009-02-16 - 15:59 FabioPasian  
PDFpdf Longo-DataMiningIG.pdf r1 manage 94.4 K 2009-02-16 - 16:01 FabioPasian  
PDFpdf OVB.pdf r1 manage 199.5 K 2009-02-16 - 16:00 FabioPasian  
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