IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM33)

Weds 23 Sept 2009 @ 15.00-16.30 GMT (click the link to find your time)



Agenda (DRAFT as of 20090910)

  1. Roll Call and Agenda -­ NW
  2. Minutes of FM 32 and FM 32S
  3. Project Reports ­- Significant Events Only
  4. Review of Action Items ­ NW
  5. Approval of New IVOA Recommendations ­ Standing Item - Registry Interfaces ; Vocabularies ; VOSpace 1.15
  6. Report by committees - FP
  7. TCG status - CA
  8. Autumn 2009 Interop Status Report – PP
  9. Spring 2010 Interop Status Report – DS
  10. Venue/ Date of Autumn 2010 Interop - MO
  11. Date of Next Exec Meeting
  12. AOB
  13. Review of New Action Items

Reports from the Projects


ArVO group members at present are: A.M. Mickaelian (Principal Investigator), H.V. Astsatryan (Technical Manager), T.Yu. Magakian and L.K. Erastova (Project Scientists), L.A. Sargsyan, P.K. Sinamyan, and S.A. Ghazaryan (Scientific/Technical Assistants), and G.A. Mikayelyan (Web Master). Two more students from the Yerevan State University (YSU) are involved in the project, too.

Work on setting up the Armenian VO server on ArmCluster at the Institute of Informatics and Automation Problems (IIAP) has been continued, as well as the establishment and utilization of the Virtual Observatories standards in Armenia.

The second version (BPD v2) of the Byurakan Observatory electronic plate database has been created and will be soon open (some 14,000 plates). It will give 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.

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.

AstroGrid (UK-VO)

The good news is that AstroGrid recently made a full documented release of its infrastructure software, which can be found at http://deployer.astrogrid.org . This is intended for both data centres and other VO projects. As before, the astronomer user-software is downloadable from a separate site, http://www.astrogrid.org

The bad news is that our intended follow-on project, VOTC:UK, has been turned down. We received some encouraging words, and were told that this did not prejudice smaller separate proposals in the VO area, but essentially there is currently no money for a major new project of that size. AstroGrid formally ends in December 2009. A variety of funding sources means that a good fraction of the staff are funded through to April 2010, and some for longer. We are actively pursuing a portfolio of small projects through STFC, ESPRC, JISC, and EU to keep as many staff as possible in the game.

The intention of the AstroGrid partnership is now to continue AstroGrid as an open source project. We are in the process of creating the "AstroGrid Software Foundation" along the lines of Apache, Python etc, and submitting a proposal for a very small number of staff to maintain and co-ordinate the software base. We will welcome software contributions from other VO projects and data centre staff, as well as ex-AstroGrid staff on continuing EU and UK VO-related projects. More detail on the structure and working practices will be available soon.


BRAVO (Brazil)

We have recently completed a white paper establishing a roadmap for VO development in Brazil. Most of the initiatives to date have concentrated on astrophysical applications. We are now bringing these developments into a more general framework following VO standards. Recent developments which still need to be made web available are:

  • Implementation of the first node of Astro-Wise in South America. We expect to have this completed by the end of the year; Porting generic applications such as the decision tree classifier, friends-of-friends, and Voronoi tesselation to a VO-like system; Creation of astrophysical applications including morphological analysis (using gradient pattern analysis), virial analysis (using the shifting gapper technique). Several other tools are under development at BRAVO@IAGUSP and should be made available soon at www.urania.iag.usp.br, including determination of galactic extinction, estimation of photometric redshift, applying reddening an de-reddening, and publication of a database of 70,000 synthetic spectra of Be stars.
  • One of our groups (BRAVO@UFSC) has been working on the organization of the results of a pixel-by-pixel spectral synthesis analysis of 926246 galaxy spectra from the SDSS DR7. These data will supersede the DR5 data available at www.starlight.ufsc.br. A new version (v05) of the STARLIGHT code has been written, correcting a few minor bugs with v04. This version should go public as soon as the associated documentation is written. We are planning to restructure the underlying database to make it more VO-like. This process will require full dedication from our local VO-expert (W. Schoenell).
  • Currently, the National Laboratory for Astrophysics (LNA) is investing in the creation of a Virtual Observatory (VO) node dedicated to the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR-4m) data. A VO service allowing users to retrieve SOAR data is already being tested. We hope to have a fully operational system by the end of this year.


One of highlights during the last 3 months is the great success of the live broadcast of the total solar eclipse on July 22 named “Multi-site Federated Live Broadcast of Solar Eclipse on July 22, International Year of Astronomy 2009”. Millions of people used the video feeds. 30 clients utilized the video stream, including 10 TV stations, 17 network portals, 1 mobile content provider and 2 IPv6 portals. Viewers came from all over the world, from countries including China, Japan, USA, Poland, Singapore, Canada, Malaysia, and many others. Special solar eclipse sections on participating web portals reported that they received over 160 million clicks, while mobile phone websites were visited more than 70 million times, which broken their visiting records created during the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Many new information and commutation technologies were involved in the live broadcast, for example, CNGI & IPv6, 3G mobile phone, satellite broadcast. If it is not the most successful astronomy event broadcast program in the special International Year of Astronomy 2009, it should be one of them.

A nation wide astronomical data grid project has been started, which is undertaken by the three key astronomical observatories in China, NAOC, Purple Mountain Astronomical Observatory and Shanghai Astronomical Observatory. VO-compliant access interfaces will be provided to access datasets from these observatories. Some early results will be available by the end of next year.

An education and public outreach funding application was approved by the NSF China. During the next three years, 250k RMB will be delivered to the China-VO to support its education and public outreach (EPO) activities on Virtual Observatory and e-Science concept. These EPO activities will take Worldwide Telescope as their platform, which is a rich interactive learning environment of the Universe populated by the highest resolution ground and space based imagery ever assembled.

Collaborations between the China-VO and Microsoft Research are greatly enhanced by both the solar eclipse live broadcast and the recently approved NSFC funding. Furthermore VO related research projects and education activates are under planning.

China-VO 2009, the 8th annual VO meeting in China will be held in Chongqing, the biggest city in south-west of China from November 25 to 28.



The Second Announcement of Opportunity to give scientific and technical support to teams interested in carrying out astronomical projects utilising VO tools was released on May 20 with a deadline of July 15 (http://www.euro-vo.org/pub/fc/AIDA_call_2009.html). Eleven applications were received. The proposals have been evaluated by the Euro-VO Science Advisory Committee on their scientific merits; AIDA scientists and technical experts are assessing their feasibility. A face-to-face meeting with the top-ranked teams will soon be held to assess the needs of the projects; support is likely to start soon after.

France VO




Korean VO


The NVO project formally concludes on 30 September 2009. Funding has been exhausted for some months now, and the successor project, VAO, remains stalled at the NSF. NASA funding has been released to a few of the collaborating sites in the VAO, but with the caveat that funds not be spent until the NSF portion of the program is funded and a final program plan has been submitted and approved by the agencies. At the same time, NASA centers have been told that any unspent funds at the end of the fiscal year will be lost. Go figure.

Weekly technical telecons continue and team members remain engaged in discussion of IVOA standards such as TAP, SIAP V2, VODataService, VOSpace, Registry Interface, VOSI, UWS, SLAP, and SSDM. However, US VO participation in the November Interop meeting will be limited to those people who are able to secure non-VO funds for their expenses.

We continue to work with NSF to resolve the funding roadblock. However, since it is now almost 1 1/2 years since the VAO proposal was submitted, and funds are yet to be released, the US VO project will require some time to regroup.


RVO progress report (Sep 2009)

1. The database of Moscow astronomical plate collection and maintenance of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (INASAN and SAI MSU, led by Nikolai Samus)

The team of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars continued its active work. We prepared a complete GCVS version for stars added to the GCVS via the 79th Name List of Variable Stars published in 2008. This catalog contains 1270 stars. Several thousand variable stars have been selected for the 80th Name List, we started its compilation. About 300 plates of the Moscow astronomical plate stacks have been scanned. The search for variable stars in the 10x10-degree field around 66 Oph from scanned plates of the 40-cm astrograph has been completed, about 200 new variables have been discovered and studied, in addition to those announced in 2008. Several hundred corrections and improvements have been introduced into the GCVS data base open to users worldwide. We have also finished our catalog of accurate equatorial coordinates for variable stars in globular clusters (almost 3400 stars).

2. Zvenigorod Scanlaboratory Group (INASAN, led by Sergei Vereshchagin)

Zvenigorod observatory group works on the project "Creation of the electronic library of astronegatives received on Zvenigorod Astrograph" from the end of 2004. The basic result will be an electronic photograph collection of the electronic scans of astronegatives. Astrograph Zeiss - 400/2000 was established in Zvenigorod in 1972. Focus=200 sm. Since 1972 about 4500 negatives are received. The equipment for the project is established: EPSON scanners with computers of a necessary completeness.

Scanning of photographic plates proceeded on the Zvenigorod Astrograph: 320 negatives are scanned. The scans was recorded on DVD disks archive by Panferova V.I. The program system for file archive management is developed by Pirogov S.M.

3. Working group "Informational technologies in astronomy" (SAI MSU, led by Oleg Bartunov)

An interactive demo "Virtual Observatory: striking examples of modern capability" was organized by I.Chilingaryan and I.Zolotukhin in Sternberg Astronomical Institute on May 8, 2009. The principal goal of the demo was to describe modern VOs, astronomical resources and databases, tools for an interactive access to sources of data. Solutions for a number of real scientific problems, both for galactic and extragalactic astronomy were demonstrated as well. The demo was addressed to students, post-graduate students and researchers.

4. Task force "Technologies of RVO information structures" (IPI RAS, led by Leonid Kalinichenko)

Main focus of work was related to the hybrid grid-infrastructure of the Russian virtual observatory for scientific problem solving over a set of heterogeneous distributed information resources (such as databases, services, ontologies) integrated by the mediators. The RVO hybrid infrastructure was constructed as a binding of the AstroGrid VO system developed in the UK and of the middleware developed at the Institute of informatics problems of RAS for support of subject mediators. Recently for this architecture a wrapper for stream data has been developed. Now it is possible to integrate for problem solving stream data with conventional database data. However, problem statements requiring stream data have not been found so far. A methodology for problem formulation and solving in the hybrid architecture is under development. For that several problems have been selected. Among them: 1) Interstellar extinction problem based on various multicolor surveys in different photometric systems (formulated by O.Malkov); 2) Photometric calibration of a field for gamma-ray bursts (formulated by A.Pozanenko); 3) Active galaxies classification based on multicolor surveys (formulated by O.Zhelenkova). Conceptual modeling (including ontological modeling) for these subject domains in frame of the subject mediators was initiated.

5. Task force "RVO data" (INASAN, led by Oleg Malkov)

The list of Russian and some fSU astronomical Internet resources was recently upgraded and posted on the RVO web-site. We also continue to register our resources in the NVO Registry.

Binary star database <http://bdb.obs-besancon.fr> (BDB), developed in Observatoire de Besancon, provides astronomers with the data for binary and multiple stars from all observational categories. In a close future BDB will be transferred to the Institute of Astronomy, Moscow, and a mirror will be supported in Observatoire de Besancon. We study implementation issues that arise in integrating heterogeneous data sources, the object identifiers problems and interoperability with other databases. We also plan to continue our effort to resolve any inconsistencies in data entries and improve presentation of the query results.

6. Publications

Antipin, S.V., Zubareva, A. M., Kolesnikova, D., Samus, N.N., Sat, L.A., Sokolovsky, K.V. CCD Observations of Four Stars Suspected in Variability from Digitized Moscow Plates. Perem. Zvezdy (Suppl.), 2009, 9, No. 21

Kazarovets, E.V., Samus, N.N., Durlevich, O.V., Kireeva, N.N., Pastukhova, E.N. The 79th Name-List of Variable Stars. Comm. 27 and 42 IAU Information Bulletin on Variable Stars, 2008, No. 5863

Kazarovets, E.V., Samus, N.N., Durlevich, O.V., Kireeva, N.N., Pastukhova, E.N., Pojmanski, G. A Catalog of Variable Stars Based on the New Name List. Astronomy Reports, 2009, 53 (in press)

Kolesnikova, D.M., Sat, L.A., Sokolovsky, K.V., Antipin, S.V., Samus, N.N. New Variable Stars on Digitized Moscow Collection Plates. Field 66 Ophiuchi (Northern Half). Acta Astronomica, 2008, 58, 279

Malkov O., Dluzhnevskaya O., Kovaleva D. Russian Virtual Observatory: Russian and fSU resources to be integrated in the IVO, 2009, in 21st International CODATA Conference, ISBN 966-8993-86-0, Kyiv, Oct 2008, 357

Malkov O., Oblak E., Debray B. Binary star data base - BDB, 2009, in ADASS XVIII Conference, eds. David Bohlender, Daniel Durand, Patrick Dowler, Quebec, Nov 2008, ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 411, 442



The newly-appointed INAF Science Committee stressed the importance of Italian participation in Euro-VO rather than developing work within the VObs.it initiative. For this reason, the activity of preparing a MoU to scope and formalise the on-going collaboration across Italy regarding VO activities within VObs.it has re-gained momentum.

INAF, CINECA and the Universities of Padua and Naples “Federico II” are preparing, with the support of VObs.it and in the EuroVO-AIDA framework, a set of seminars to demonstrate the capabilities of the VO to the Italian community. This activity, called “VO on tour” will be carried out from December 2009 to spring 2010.

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 adequate.

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.

VObs.it is 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.


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

This IG has mainly been dormant in recent months. The NSF DataNet initiative in the US has selected an NVO-affiliated project for funding. But as with VAO, NSF has not yet finalized the award some 10 months after the selection decision was made. The project PI, Sayeed Choudhury (JHU) will present a paper at the conference "Ensuring Long-Term Preservation and Adding Value to Scientific and Technical Data" being held at ESAC in early December.

Theory IG

Standards & Processes

-- NicholasWalton - 10 Sep 2009

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Topic revision: r14 - 2009-09-23 - FabioPasian
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