IVOA Executive Committee Meeting (TM52)

Telecon 12 Feb 2014



Telecon: 12Feb2014 @11am EST

Here's a pointer to a world clock to translate the time for your location:



  1. Roll Call and Agenda (JE)
  2. Minutes of FM50 and TM51
  3. Review of FM50 and TM51 Actions (JE)
  4. Project Reports [Significant Events Only]
  5. TCG status
  6. Approval of new IVOA Recommendation(s) [Standing Item]
  7. IVOA Exec representative changes - Brazil, Argentina
  8. IVOA Web pages and Document Repository
  9. May Interop - Focus session planning
  10. Revision of the IVOA membership documents
  11. Coupling of IVOA Interop and ADASS - Fall Banff update; 2015 Sydney update
  12. Review response to mail list use for discussions
  13. Review expiring Working Group Chair/Deputy Chair positions
  14. Date of Next Exec Meeting
  15. AOB
  16. Review of Action Items (JE)

Reports from the Projects

Argentina - NOVA



As for the last few meetings, UK VO (ex-AstroGrid) activity is now performed under the Euro-VO umbrella, or through data centre activities. However, as mentioned last time we are now running a project called ASTROTROP which is aimed at re-purposing VO software for Tropical Forest monitoring. We held a very successful first conference in October in Edinburgh. We would welcome involvement by any other VO projects



BRAVO is currently engaged in three activities:

- Events: BRAVO is organising in partnership with other institutes the 2nd Edition of the Scientific Computing for Astronomy workshop, to be held in June/2014 at São Paulo. The aim of this workshop series is to put astronomy and computing communities in a common environment to foster collaborations. A VO hands-on activity of 4 hours will be given, largely based on some of the lessons from the VO School held in São Paulo in 2012.

- Funding: the program which funded BRAVO activities during the last few years is at an end. We are applying for 2 to 5 years grants at the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). An important aspect of these projects is to improve human resources by hiring full-time researches (in informatics and astronomy) and technicians to work full-time on VO activities. They also include acquiring a server to host VO projects (a registry mirror and "use cases" identified in the last couple of years, which involve publishing observed and modelled data from brazilian groups in VO compliant protocols).

- Consolidation: Following a fruitfull discussion with Enrique Solano last October, BRAVO deepened its contact with the brazilian coordinators of the J-PAS consortia. We expect that this partnership will help to consolidate BRAVO as a research project in our communitiy, by hosting a transdisciplinary VO group providing support to the brazilian groups (initally those participating in J-PAS and T80S surveys).


  • CAS AstroCloud kickoff meeting was held. Kickoff meeting of the CAS AstroCloud project was held on Oct. 11, 2013. At the beginning of 2013, two proposals submitted to NDRC (National Development and Reform commission) and CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) were approved. With the support of the two funding, the China-VO will be going to build an Astronomical Resource Planning platform (AstroCloud) for the astronomical community and telescopes in China. Tasks such as observation time application, proposal review, data archiving, data release and sharing, scientific discovery collection, will be (or demanded) done on the platform. The platform will provide proposal submission, data access, limited data processing and data mining, and maybe more functions, to astronomers. If the platform can be realized in 2 or 3 years as current aims, it will become an essential cyber infrastructure in China for Astronomy. Achievements from the IVOA and VO partners will be adopted heavily by the platform.
  • Opening ceremony of the first WWT interactive digital planetarium was held. On Oct. 21, 2013, the opening ceremony of the first WWT interactive digital planetarium in China was held at Shixinlu primary school in Chongqing, a south-west city in China. Dan Fay, the lead of WWT project, was attended the ceremony with Chenzhou Cui and other representatives.
  • Tony Hey visited the China-VO. October 23, 2013, Tony Hey, Vice President of Microsoft Research Connections, visited NAOC and had a special discussion with the China-VO team. Dr. Dan Fay (MSR), and Dr. Guobin Wu (MSRA) accompanied the visit. Deputy directors of NAOC, Gang Zhao and Jinxin Hao met with Dr. Hey. China-VO has become an important partner of the MSR WWT project.
  • China-VO 2013 was held successfully. China-VO 2013 was held successfully at Ya’an, Sichuan from Nov. 13-17. China-VO 2013 is the 12th annual meeting organized by the China-VO project. The theme of the meeting is "From the Ground to the Cloud". More than 70 representatives from nationwide observatories, universities and companies attended the meeting.




The current Euro-VO project, CoSADIE, is continuing to coordinate European VO activities. In particular, a Technology Forum gathering the teams which develop the VO will be held in Trieste, 12-13 March 2014 (http://www.cosadie.eu/twiki/bin/view/CoSADIE/TechForum3). CoSADIE will participate in a VO school organised in collaboration between Poland and France in Poland in June 2014.

CoSADIE other strand of work is to assess all the elements necessary in a sustainable Euro-VO. This is done in close collaboration with the Astronet European project, which gathers the European funding agencies and establishes the strategy of astronomy in Europe.

The new European Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, is explored to find how Euro-VO can look for support in the new context.

Liaison with the Research Data Alliance and with other European projects such as EUDAT continues.


France VO

The annual meeting of the Action Spécifique Observatoires Virtuels France was held in Paris, 28-29 January 2014. The meeting programme and viewgraphs presented are at http://www.france-ov.org/twiki/bin/view/ASOVFrance/ProgrammeASOV2014 (mostly in French). The meeting gathered ~40 participants from Besançon, Grenoble, Nançay, Paris, Strasbourg, working on interoperability standards for astronomy, heliospheric and space plasma physics, planetary studies, and atomic and molecular physics (with also attendents working in the CTA project). Presentations dealt with the organisation of regional centres, standards, tools and services. The meeting demonstrated once again that the work on standards and tools performed in the IVOA context is reused and customized by other disciplines - taking advantage of the huge intellectual investment put by many in the IVOA.

French teams continue to be very active in the development of standards in IVOA and in the other disciplines and in the organisation of the European/international Interoperability projects. Wrt. IVOA French teams are involved in the definition of most standards recently approved or in RFC (VOTable 1.3, PhotDM, VOUnits, PDL, MOC) and being worked at (DataLink, Simple Image Access, Spectral DM, Char2).

France VO continues to support participation of staff working in French labs in IVOA meetings and in similar meetings organised in other disciplines.


GAVO's Heidelberg and Potsdam data centers keep maintaining and developing services, e.g., a new imaging catalog of nearby AGNs in the infrared, and an improved publication of a catalog of candidate members of open clusters. We are also involved in working out the details of publishing upcoming data from Gaia.

In standards, we continued preparation of the relational registry, which we see as a successor to the current interface for querying searchable registries. We also implemented a flexible prototype for datalink services, including provisions for slicing and dicing of large datasets, and started prototyping an improved method for dealing with Echelle spectra in the VO. Client support for this is provided by SPLAT, which also grew a premliminary interface to ObsCore and Datalink.

We are active within the Edu IG, where we collaborate on writing a combined requirements/best practice Note and set up a subversion repository open to all IVOA members to develop and maintain educational material in; this includes recommendations on documenting the translation status.



A national hands-on workshop on VO, with attached a session on Science gateways, took place in Catania in December (19th to 21st); workshop program, details and materials can be found here http://vobs.astro.it/vofriends/.

VObs.it is starting to organize itself for the Spring 2015 Interoperability Meeting. Two locations are under evaluation: Sesto/Sexten (on the Dolomites) or Venice. Costs (both for organizers and participants) will vary greatly from one choice to the other, Venice being more expensive. If Sesto is chosen the meeting dates should be shifted to June and, since it's not easily reachable with standard means of transportation and is about 150 km from Venice, VObs.it can organize (no more than) two coaches to bring participants from Venice airport to the Interop location and back at the beginning and end of the meeting respectively. For participants not being able to take advantage of this service (or not attending the full meeting) a shuttle bus service exists (~50/60€ per person), or local transportation.


Ukraine VO


The VAO team has been working concertedly on the top priority technical initiatives associated with the close-out phase of the project. Foremost among these is the Simple Image Access Protocol V2, which will provide support for discovery and access of n-dimensional data cubes. Although full international agreement on the details of the protocol and its associated data model is likely to go on beyond the termination of VAO, we are confident that we can deploy an initial suite of SIAP V2 services that will require only minor updates once full consensus is reached in the IVOA.

We have also made significant progress in deploying desktop tools for astronomers and developers using Python. PyVO provides simple interfaces to all core VO protocols and thus allows for the development of custom VO-enabled Python programs. VOClient provides a higher level of abstraction for VO services and similarly allows users to develop custom scripts.

SciDrive, our Dropbox-like cloud storage facility that is based on the VOSpace and VAO single sign-on authentication system, has been opened up for community use. Physical storage for SciDrive is provided by JHU.

Agreement was reached with VO Italy, VO India, and SAO for the transfer of the IVOA document repository, web pages, wiki site, e-mail lists, and newsletter preparation. The transition process will be overseen by B. Berriman (IPAC).

We continue to maintain the VAO web site, posting news items of interest to the community about VAO activities and other VO projects worldwide.

The government shutdown in October led to service outages at GSFC/HEASARC, which impacted the VAO Data Discovery Tool and our routine monitoring services. Aside from this, reliability of VAO services has been very high.

We continue to populate the VAO source code and document repository. We intend to have the repository complete in time for a formal project close-out review, scheduled for July 8-10 at Caltech. Subsequent to this review updates will be made to the repository as needed, prior to handing off responsibility for its maintenance to the NASA data centers.



South African Astroinformatics Alliance (SA3)

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Virtual Observatory Data Archive System (VODAS) is now available. SALT-VODAS allows users to search the SALT data archive for all publicly available SALT data. This includes data from commissioning proposals, included the High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS which is still being commissioned), all calibration data taken with SALT, and data from any proposal past its proprietary period. SALT-VODAs was developed in a collaboration between SAAO, SA3 and VO-India. Users can access VODAS from http://vodas.salt.ac.za/. This is first time data from any South African telescope has been made public.

SA3 and CDS, with help from SA Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), has installed a mirror copy of VizieR, the CDS catalogue querying service, at the CHPC in Cape Town and is the process of testing it before making a public announcement. In addition to the primary site in France, VizieR mirrors are already functioning in Japan, Canada, India, UK, Russia, China and USA, but this is the first in the southern hemisphere.

Patricia Whitelock

February 2014


(Since Sep 2013)

Manpower: 8 FTEs. The SVO Thematic Network (people from Spanish institutes with interest in the VO) is composed of almost 200 participants from more than 30 labs.


VO- Archives:

  • Near-Earth asteroid precovery. Research Night. Madrid. September 2013.


One of the main activities of VOI over recent months has been installation of the Catalina Realtime Transient Survey (CRTS) at IUCAA. Through a MoU signed with Caltech, IUCAA will be the sole server of the CRTS catalogues and images. The data has been transferred to IUCAA, the databases have been created and are being populated. The user interface is ready. The data will be released to the public before the end of February.

Another project VOI is working on is preparing a set of Lite versions of VOI products, and other tools, for Android platforms. This was motivated by the large scale distribution of Akash (meaning Sky) Android tablets to high school and other students in India. This low cost tablet is meant to provide access to useful tools and services to students. VOI has been provided a number of these tablets to carry out the development. An early release is expected by mid-March.

Topic revision: r16 - 2014-02-14 - JanetEvans
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