The Virtual Observatory: Methodologies for Data Handling

The ESF scientific network on Converging Computing Methodologies in Astronomy (CCMA) has been active in the period 1995-1997. A short report is attached. The following proposal takes CCMA as its point of departure, and seeks to include also closely-related areas of remote sensing. A picture, it is said, replaces a thousand words. Image data, with its associated text and other data and information, is particularly well suited to human information processing. The quantity of scientific imagery is dramatically increasing. The early part of the life cycle of data in the fields of astronomy and of Earth observation includes calibration and processing, to make the data generally usable. Data centres, or Processing and Archiving Facilities (PAFs) play a role here. Data handling, and even data access and understanding, become very important from this point onwards. This is where much effort, and much pioneering work, is needed. Spin-off influence and results in other areas is clearly happening: image filtering and `object' detection in mammography image analysis, image registration in molecular biology, close links with research work in archaeology and video databases, oceanography and industrial vision inspection - fault detection in jeans and other textiles - to name but a few.

Among issues relating to methodology are the following:

Participants in the ESF Exploratory Workshop to be held in September 1999 include: Participants in the CCMA ESF scientific network, 1995-1997; The ESF-associated European Space Science Committee (ESSC); Methodologists associated with large-scale data repositories in Earth observation (the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Ispra; the European Space Agency, ESRIN; DLR Oberpfaffenhofen; CNES; PAFs specializing in Earth observation data, and, in astronomy, Strasbourg Observatory, and ADS, Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA; Publishers (Springer-Verlag, Elsevier, Kluwer, University of Chicago Press, professional associations, Cambridge University Press, Nature and Science); Selected specialists in the handling of multimedia, multimodal data, or what could be characterized as the vision/language interface; Selected specialists in statistical and data analysis methodology; and in data mining and in knowledge discovery in databases.

Following the ESF Exploratory Workshop, a proposal for an ESF Scientific Programme will be drafted.

Prof. Fionn Murtagh
The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory, Strasbourg, France
Tel +44 1232 274620
Fax +44 1232 683890

Link to CCMA area, Converging Computing Methodologies in Astronomy.

Last update to this page: 16 June 1999.