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ADASS Day 1: A new portal, new Aladin features

posted Nov 9, 2010, 8:24 AM by August Muench   [ updated Nov 9, 2010, 7:09 PM ]

Monday was the first full day of the Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems 2010 meeting. As there are new tools being presented and demo'd, I'm going to try to blog each day about a few interesting posters or talks.

For the twitters among you the hashtag #adass appears to be the one being used by the handful of us...

What seems clear to me is that the 20th ADASS meeting reflects an adoption of "VO" standards. I also think it frames some serious "competition" among new tools for users to adopt and use. For example, I was completely unaware of the newest features of the Japanese Virtual Observatory portal before reading their poster.  The JVO portal wraps a number of independent search and discover tools into one website with a web store for caching personal results. We ought to look into how this "portal" model compares with the CDS Portal, which has 1 all encompassing aggregation functionality, or the previous "NVO" portal that attempted to create invisible links between web apps running on completely different web homes. 

Based on comments after one of the talks, a significant discussion point from the Sunday tutorials was apparently a desire for users to have a "personal" CasJobs -- ie a webstore/ web platform for manipulating data.  It is true that anyone can create a limited CasJobs account, but the web stores implemented with things like the CDS and JVO portals are all pretty simple "blob" storage. I suspect people are looking for a little more framework...

Finally, a focus demo on Aladin all sky "browser" was really impressive. The beta version for the "release 7" Aladin included all kinds of all-sky functionality for images and catalogs and some additional personalization tools.  What is perhaps very useful is that it includes a toolkit that can reproject your data to a HEALPix tiled format for viewing in Aladin and comparing to data it or the VO provides. I've been looking for someone to create a toolkit like this for other sky pixelizations like HTM/TOAST.  Aladin also demo'd their efforts to provide additional plugin tools like 2d plots, sky density mappings (precached) and an SED builder plugin.