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ADASS Day 2: iGoogle for Astronomy?

posted Nov 9, 2010, 8:07 AM by August Muench
Andy Connolly gave a talk on the current status of their NASA AIRSP funded project for creating, federating and sharing simple "gadgets" or "widgets" for accessing online resources and performing basic data manipulation and visualization. Entitled "AStronomical COllaborative Toolkit" or ASCOT, the long term goal appears to be a "collaborative" framework for sharing the suite of gadgets and a user's associated data analysis steps with others. Andy told us that "sharing" was the next step in their efforts. 


Referring to this as an "iGoogle" model for astronomy research really doesn't capture Andy's project, because the expressed purpose of such a research website is having the gadgets talk to one another and share data derived in different ways. On iGoogle, having your Gmail widget talking to a Facebook or Farmville widget would be a really, really bad thing. 


A vaguely defined "backend" widget accomplishes the task of having individual gadgets for query/viz/tables talk to one another.  Afterwards quite a few of us had email and twitter questions about how directly the gadgets are plugged into VO services and what if any massaging of individual network resources are done in this backend.   Another big issue is that the project has an expressed software goal of being purely in javascript/html so it will run in any browser, but sky viz tools like Google Earth plugin or Silverlight WWT don't fit that bill.  Part of Andy's talk was a screencast movie showing a demo exploration of some SDSS catalog data on an Abell cluster and he pointed everyone to a public facing demo is currently located here.
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