IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM35)

*Tues Mar 2 2010 @ 16.00 GMT




  1. Roll Call and Agenda (MA)
  2. Minutes of FM34 Suppl., Minutes of FM34 (FP)
  3. Review of Actions (MA)
  4. Project Reports - Significant Events Only
  5. TCG status (CA)
  6. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  7. Expired/expiring Chairs (all)
  8. Program Organising Committee (SG)
  9. Standing Committee on Science Priorities (DDY)
  10. Proposal for IG on Data Mining (KDD-IG) (FP)
  11. ObsTAP project (DS)
  12. Educational aspects - regional experiences (all)
  13. Inclusion of new data in the VO - national strategies (all)
  14. Mailing lists (FP)
  15. Future Interops (DS/MO)
  16. AOB
  17. Date of Next Exec Meeting
  18. Review of New Action Items (MA)

Reports from the Projects



The AstroGrid project formally finished on Dec 31st 2009, but the AstroGrid consortium continues with a mixed bag of funding. AstroGrid services (eg the Registry) are being maintained, and the AstroGrid software is available to data centres and other VO projects through http://deployer.astrogrid.org . A new version of VODesktop (V1.3.2) was released on Feb 10th (see http://www.astrogrid.org). The main change is the ability to use TAP services through the Query Builder in VO Desktop. We look forward to more TAP services becoming available ! For the time being, some AstroGrid staff are still on VO-related funding (eg AIDA or VAMDC), some have moved onto data centre posts which have a partial VO responsibility, and some have moved on to completely different posts.




From Nov. 26 to 28, 2009, China-VO 2009 was held successfully in Chongqing, the largest city in South-West China. Nearly 60 representatives from about 20 institutes, universities and companies attended the workshop.

The theme of the China-VO 2009 is “New round of VO”. Both the China-VO and world wide VO projects are stepping into a new phase. On the workshop, blueprint and developing strategies for the China-VO was discussed broadly and refined. A basic consensus is that VO should serve its users, including astronomers, educators, and the public.

In 2009, the most important accomplishment of the China-VO is enhancement of its infrastructure, including joining in of new staffs, constructing new database center, and collecting new data from LAMOST and CSTAR Antarctic observatory. A new funding was granted to the China-VO recently from the NSFC to put forward LAMOST scientific database system into operation by the end of the year.

Furthermore, in 2009, both the logo and website of the China-VO were re-designed.

At the beginning of 2010, three pieces of computer software registrations were awarded to the China-VO by Copyright Protection Center of China. The three VO applications are SkyMouse, VO-DAS and FitHAS. SkyMouse is a lightweight interface for distributed astronomical on-line resources and services. FitHAS (FITS Header Archiving System) is a toolkit for FITS file providers and data centers. VO-DAS is an OGSA-DAI based service system to provide uniformed access to astronomy data.

An enhanced version of FitHAS, named Fits Manager, is under developing, which will be a collaborating project with the VO-I. Like gallery applications, for example Picasa and ACDSee, for JPG and GIF images, we hope to provide a one-stop platform for FITS file managing.

Collaborating with Microsoft Research and Microsoft Research Asia, a series of VO education activities basing on the WWT are designed for the year, including course development and teaching using WWT at Central China Normal University; WWT Teachers’ Training summer school; and WWT guided tours competition.


Summary of CVO activities


• Contributed to finishing the TAP standard which is now ready to be approved as an IVOA Recommendation • TAP source code is open and available at http://opencadc.googlecode.com/ • Related source code also available for ADQL parser, UWS services, STC-S, VOSI capabilities • We have a reference implementation completed at CADC


This data query and access service is nearly finalized. Data Model work led by Mireille Louys. Contributions from many. An operational service is running at CADC. Documentation will be complete before the May InterOp.

Wide implementation is the next challenge.


Migration of most CADC collections to the Common Archive Observation Model is proceeding. This has been a major data engineering task that should now bear fruit with all major collections available through VO services.


The first meeting of the (mostly) renewed Euro-VO Science Advisory Committee (SAC) took place on Dec. 14, 2009, at ESO. The SAC is composed of leading European researchers outside mainstream VO projects (see http://www.euro-vo.org/pub/fc/sac.html). SAC members were briefed on recent Euro-VO activities and provided scientific input to the project. The next SAC meeting will be at Imperial College in June.

The second European “hands-on” VO School was held at CDS, Strasbourg, Jan. 25 - 28, 2010 as part of the activities of the Euro-VO AIDA project (see http://cds.u-strasbg.fr/aidahandson2010/). The aim of the school, targeted mostly at PhD students and young post-docs, was to expose European astronomers to the many available VO tools and services so that they could be used efficiently for research purposes. The school involved 39 students, out of the 79 who requested to participate, and 13 tutors and tool developers. Based on the input received from the participants during the hands-on and feedback sessions, and gathered from the feedback form, the school was a great success.

Euro-VO also continues to hold bi-yearly Technology Forums, gathering in particular the partners' technical teams. Like at the IVOA level, science requirements and feedback and feedback from implementation appear more and more explicitely in these meetings, and in particular during the last meeting in Trieste a significant part of the informal meeting ('Hack-a-thon') was devoted to discuss SED building and ObsTAP. The successful Educational and outreach activities led by VObs.It with active participation of several other partners also continues.

France VO

(this report covers the last year of activities since no report was posted since TM31, February 2009)

The Action Spécifique Observatoires Virtuels France (ASOV, which is the F-VO has continued to support travel of staff from the French VO teams to the IVOA Interoperability meetings, and for co-operation meetings between different teams inside the country. One can note the emergence of a 'Grand Sud Ouest' collaboration, with meetings gathering teams from Toulouse, Tarbes, Bordeaux and Montpellier to share their expertise on the implementation of VO standards. Also, a first local 'VO day' for scientists was successfully organised in Bordeaux (24 September 2009, http://www.france-ov.org/twiki/bin/view/ASOVFrance/JourneeOVLAB2009 - in French) by CDS staff. A meeting of presentation of the VO, including technical aspects of implementation, was also held in Nice for the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur. The ASOV status, with emphasis on research tools developed in the framework of VO R&D activities, was presented as usual in a plenary session of the French astronomical society, which was held this year in Besançon (29 June - 4 July).

The annual meeting of ASOV was held 28-29 October 2009 in Paris (http://www.france-ov.org/twiki/bin/view/ASOVFrance/Reunion2009), gathering ~40 participants from all over France. The VO work and implementations were presented, as well as status report of some of the work on interoperability standards, and examples of science requirements and science usage.

Several Working Groups continued to work on specific topics, in particular Planetary Sciences and geodetics. A meeting was also organised in collaboartion with the French 'Institut des Grilles' to support people who want to up-take the computational grid environment.

French astronomy organizes a national strategic exercise every 4-5 years, which are named from the city were the final colloquium is held. The creation of ASOV was a recommendation of the 2003 exercise (La Colle sur Loup), and ASOV was confirmed by the 2009 exercise (La Londe Les Maures). Its role remains to organize the French VO activities, to support take-up by data centers, and a strong emphasis is put on the support to take-up by astronomers. It is also proposed (but this is not confirmed at this stage) that ASOV could be given a role in the evaluation of services, together with the Nation Programmes which cover the different topics. The emergence of European-funded projects in domains such as planetary sciences EuroPlaNet), solar and heliopheric studies (HELIO), Atomic and molecular physics (VAMDC, with activities dealing with usage in astrophysics), was also noted. All these projects have a strong French participation and, in some cases, French leadership. It is worth reminding here that ASOV is a 'light' programme which mainly distribute traval money and organises meetings. It is consulted on all topics relevant to the VO.

The 2010 Announcement of Opportunities is on-going. It is open to proposals for travel money for participation in IVOA meetings (or similar meetings for other disciplines), co-operation meetings, regional meetings, and support to take-up by scientists.

The level of participation of French teams in IVOA meeting has continued to be high. The May 2009 Interoperability meeting was organised in Strasbourg. The "Community Feedback VO School 2010" focussed on PhD students and post-docs, organised by the EuroVO-AIDA project in January 2010, was also held in Strasbourg, and a national school is planned in view of the success and very positive effects in labs (several French participants held successful mini-VO workshops in their institutions after the School).

Active participation in the technical work on IVOA standards, in education and outreach activities coordinated by VObs.it in the framework of EuroVO-AIDA, and support to the 'VO days' organised elsewhere in Europe, continue.




The Japan VO team held a tutorial to promote the VO portal and several VO tools, such as Aladin, VOPlot, VOSpec, TOPCAT, and others. Because this tutorial was the first one after we had started the JVO official operation, we did not expect to have many applicants. However, we received about twenty applicants, exceeding our capacity. The tutorial was held between January 25th and 27th, including lectures on the VO concept, details how to use VO portals and tools. Day2 was dedicated to "exercise" for the participants to explore the VO world to query data, to analyze catalog data, and so on.

Regarding the developments, we implemented "JVOSky" to display image fields on the sky by using the Google Sky API. You can visit at http://jvo.nao.ac.jp/portal/jvosky.do to see how it works.

We also made an experimental implementation of a distributed data analysis environment by using the Hadoop middleware. In this experiment, we used 10 servers with 70 CPU cores in parallel, and cross-matched 1 billion sources. The elapsed time was about 3.7 hours. The estimated elapsed time for a single CPU core was about 6 months, therefore it was found the distributed calculation was quite fast. It was also found that the installation of the Hadoop middleware was quite easy -- just download the package, unzip the package, and customize the configuration.

Korean VO


The US VO project remains stalled as we await NSF funding. There has been some progress, however, in recent weeks, and it would seem that release of funds is imminent. Of course, we have had this impression a number of times in the past.

In the interim we are proceeding, using NASA funds already in hand, to maintain our core services and run regular testing of aliveness and compliance of VO services. We are also going ahead and convening the VAO Science Council, the group that will advise us on science priorities. The Council will meet at NASA Goddard on March 26-27. We are preparing presentations describing possible development activities in seven areas: 1) a cross-matched "master catalog" and advance cross-matching tools for users, 2) support for rapid transients, 3) much more extensive linking between data and publications, 4) robust data discovery and data mining, 5) a extended set of VO-enabled tools, including visualization, 6) integration of theoretical simulations and simulated observations, and 7) development of a "seamless" astronomical research environment.

The members of the Science Council are drawn from the US astronomical community and represent a variety of types of organizations and research interests. Several members have long-term connections to the VO, but most are from outside the VO project and we hope will bring a fresh perspective.

Pepi Fabbiano, chair, SAO
Daniela Calzetti, U.Mass.
Chris Carilli, NRAO
Zeljko Ivezic, U. Wash.
Eric Feigelson, Penn State
Paul Eskridge, Minn.State
Sarah Seager, MIT
Alyssa Goodman, Harvard
George Djorgovski, Caltech
Marc Postman, STScI
Barry Madore, Carnegie



Manpower: 10 FTEs. The SVO Thematic Network (people from Spanish institutes with interest in the VO) is composed of 112 members in 28 institutes.

Standards: Work on access protocols and models for theoretical data is progressing. Information on this topic can be found at: http://svo.cab.inta-csic.es/modules.php?op=modload&name=phpWiki&file=index&pagename=Projects-Theory

VO archives: - Technical support for the development of a VO archive for a robotic telescope (in collab. with the University of Barcelona)

VO Science:

- "GTC/OSIRIS Spectroscopic Identification of a Faint L Subdwarf in the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey". (Lodieu et al. 2010ApJ...708L.107L)

- Scientific support to the discovery of hot subdwarfs using VO tools.


- "The Virtual Observatory for the amateur astronomy". Pro-Am workshop. Cordoba, Nov 2009. José M. Alacid, Enrique Solano.

- Aladin: Translation into Spanish (in the framework of EuroVO-AIDA)

- Use cases: Translation into Spanish (in the framework of EuroVO-AIDA)


- Euro-VO AIDA School. Strasbourg. January 2010. Two SVO members in the Scientific and Technical Organizing Committee (STOC)



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

Applications WG

Data Access Layer WG

Data Models WG

  • Core Components Observation Data Model

The goal of this effort is to provide a consistent and concise description of the minimal set of metadata for observations necessary to perform data discovery. The targeted implementation platform is a TAP/ADQL service that should be manageable to be installed by most archive services without too much re-engineering cost. This effort has two collaborative aspects: a conceptual one, that should provide a logical and extensible model, and a pragmatic engineering aspect that focuses on a strategy for the integration of existing data collection, stored in existing DB. A draft document is currently being elaborated the first version of which is published at http://wiki.ivoa.net/internal/IVOA/ObsDMCoreComponents/WD-ObsCoreDM-0.1-2010Jan15.pdf.zip A first implementation is available from CADC and will be described in the IVOA Observation Core Components Data Model working draft.

  • Full Observation, Provenance and Extended Characterisation Data Model
This topic explores the specific use-cases where observations need more levels of detail to be fully described
  1. Uses-cases for complex data sets (CCD mosaics, polarised data ) XML description examples of polarized or composed observations (F. Bonnarel, A.Richards)
  2. Examples for resolution variation and variable PSF in observations by Igor Chilingarian and F.Bonnarel
  3. Collaboration on Provenance data model started during Garching interop meeting (J.deSantander, A.Delgado, N.Delmotte, M.Louys, I.Chilingarian, Bonnarel)
  4. A note on Polarization model and data access has been written by A.Richards with collaboration of F.Bonnarel.

  • Characterisation data model in practice for in science applications
The CDS, mainly Gregory Mantelet a young engineer trainee (with inputs from C.Bot, P.Fernique, F.Bonnarel) has developped a java plugin for the sky browser application Aladin. This plugin creates spectral energy distributions (SEDs) from multi-band photometrically calibrated images loaded in the Aladin application. It relies on metadata from the "Characterisation data model" mainly a spatial region, the central wavelength, as well as the flux units. The plugin supports data conversions in order to deal with heterogeneous image sets, but also for displays. For example, fluxes (in various astronomical units) can be converted into intensities or energies (in various units as well). Wavelength to frequency conversions are another example. This plugin is fully VO interoperable as it supports the SAMP protocol and delivers SEDs in all VO formats: VOTable, XML schema.

  • Photometry Datamodel
Use-cases have been collected during the Garching interop and summarized in the following document by M.Louys, with the help of P.Padovani and D. Schade): http://wiki.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/view/IVOA/PhotometryDataModel

Discussions are currently taking place (ESAC, SVO, CDS) for a bottom-up approach for the representation of SEDs .The Photometry DM presented in Garching and SSA/SpectrumDM are re-used.

  • Utypes and Units
These IVOA notes updates are currently idle tasks due to lack of participation/manpower.

  • Miscellaneous
Another pending task is the concurent update of two previous documents: SSA and Spectrum where Utypes and ucds show some mismatches.

Grid and Web Services Working Group

Unfortunately lack of dedicated resource, i.e. more than just when I have a few minutes spare, has meant that the planned activities for this recent period have been fairly curtailed. However, we have still managed to complete the final edit of Credential Delegation Protocol and start the TCG review period of Universal Worker Service (UWS). It is hoped that VOSI (to PR this week) and WS-I (went to PR 1/3/10) will have their RFCs announced soon and we can then focus on VOSpace 2.0 development.

Registry WG

Semantics/UCD WG

Semantics-related issues in the last months are mainly related to vocabularies :

  • A Multilingual on-line Dictionary of Astronomical Concepts developed at Paris Observatory for the International Year of Astronomy
  • SKOS output of the ontology of astronomical object types developed by INAF/CDS
  • Development of a dictionary service (explaining words) under way
  • Suggestion mechanism in portal in development


Sorry I didn't get this in before the meeting:

A quick update on (some of the) upcoming VOEvent WG activities:

- A group is working to wrap up the simple time series (sub)schema. Wider comment will be sought soon. This will appear in a draft of the VOEvent v2.0 spec when the dust settles.

- Many of the sections for the Hotwired book have been returned to the editors. A revised outline will result. Many thanks to all the authors!

- The participant list for Eventful Universe (Tucson, 17-20 March) has been updated (http://www.noao.edu/meetings/eventful-universe/participants.php). Program update pending this week (I saw a handwritten version just now).

- The program for SPIE (San Diego, 27 June - 2 July) is online (http://spie.org/x13667.xml). Several of the conferences have a time domain focus in 2010, in particular Observatory Operations, #7737, and Software and Cyberinfrastructure, #7740. VOEvent WG members feature prominently.

Registration remains open for both meetings. I believe student support is available for both.

- Planning for the IVOA InterOp (Victoria, 17-21 May) should begin soon. A significant VOEvent participation is anticipated to coincide with wrapping up issues related to v2.0.

- A variety of infrastructure-building activities are ongoing with several different projects. Everybody benefits from encouraging these and from getting the details (adherence to schema, etc) right.

If I missed your favorite topic (eg, SEAP) feel free to chime in.



VOTable WG

Data Curation and Preservation IG

The DCP IG has basically been inactive for the past year, but DCP activities are now getting under way such that we can expect the IG to regroup. In the US, NSF's DataNet program has now funded two projects, DataOne and the Data Conservancy. The latter is lead by Johns Hopkins University and has a direct NVO/VAO connection.

Theory IG

The work on SimDB and SimDAP documents has been slowed down because of the developments of services by the same bunch of people.

VO-Paris has worked on the implementation of some piece of the characterization DM into the simulation one. Most of the efforts have been concentrated on the development of new DB services.

SVO has been working in three main lines: 1) several services with synthetic photometry for theoretical models has been developped. This services can be accessed from VOSpec that is also able to use the Filter Profile Service at LAEFF to properly understand the meaning of the given magnitudes ; 2) a service has been developed for astroseismology theoretical models ; 3) S3 : During 2009, it has been discussed in the two IVOA meetings (Strasbourg, May 2009, and Garching, Nov 2009) together with the posibilities of integration with other proposed approaches as SimDAP. All the discussions have lead to improvements in the protocol.

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