TOPCAT and SAMP: developing the leading astronomical catalogue software

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

TOPCAT, with its associated libraries, is the leading astronomical catalogue software, and has been adopted by many large-scale projects. Its development to this stage of national and international acceptance, by Dr. Mark Taylor, was funded until recently by the AstroGrid grant, and has been continued under an urgency grant. STFC support is due to run out in late 2010, when this exceptionally useful software will begin to become obsolete in the face of the increasing requirements from existing projects using front-rank facilities and combining multi-wavelength catalogues. It must continue to adapt to cope with the changing standards of the Virtual Observatory and the changing requirements of its chief users. In particular, it is intended to add a Python interface, to improve useability and aid integration into large-scale catalogue-handling pipelines of the type that are increasingly being used for major astronomical (and other) projects. This proposal requests funding for 24 months to provide the improvements to TOPCAT most requested by its current users and to keep it fully compliant with the developing Virtual Observatory protocols. The funding will also support work on the Simple Astronomical Messaging Protocol, SAMP, which covers data exchange between different tools running on a user's computer, so that TOPCAT can work with many other tools, including the Microsoft World-Wide Telescope and the Herschel Interactive Processing Environment. SAMP was defined by Taylor et al. (2009), and Mark Taylor's implementations of the protocol are now embedded in TOPCAT and other standard astronomical tools.

Publications

10 25 50

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Berry D. S. (2012) NDG -- Routines for Accessing Groups of NDFs in Starlink User Note

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Boch T. (2012) Simple Application Messaging Protocol Version 1.3 in IVOA Recommendation 11 April 201

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Boch, T (2012) SAMP: Application Messaging for Desktop and Web Applications in ASTRONOMICAL DATA ANALYSIS SOFTWARE AND SYSTEMS XXI

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Demleitner Markus (2012) TAPRegExt: a VOResource Schema Extension for Describing TAP Services Version 1.0 in IVOA Recommendation 27 August 201

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Dowler Patrick (2013) Data Access Layer Interface Version 1.0 in IVOA Recommendation 29 November 201

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Draper (2012) GAIA -- Graphical Astronomy and Image Analysis Tool in Starlink User Note

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Draper Peter W. (2013) SPLAT-VO -- A VO-enabled Spectral Analysis Tool in Starlink User Note

 
Description The software developed has been widely disseminated, and is used internationally for distributed data access via the Astrophysics Source Code Library and GitHub.
Exploitation Route The software is well documented and suitable for multiple uses. It has many hundreds of active users world-wide.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

 
Description The software involved has been used for educational purposes at school level, and forms a part of the Microsoft World-Wide Telescope, as well as being an essential component of the archive access used for the ESA Gaia project.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Ad hoc funding
Amount € 20,000 (EUR)
Organisation Heidelberg University 
Sector Academic/University
Country Germany
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2011
 
Description Ad hoc funding
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Microsoft Research 
Department Microsoft Research Cambridge
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 12/2012
 
Title STILTS 
Description Starlink Tables Infrastructure Library Tool Set: software for handling tabular data in many formats, including methods compliant with Virtual Observatory protocols. 
Type Of Material Data Handling & Control 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Used in many astronomical databases; potential uses for other complicated databases. 
 
Title TOPCAT 
Description Tool for operations on catalogues and tables: general catalogue comparison/selection tool, much used by astronomers world-wide. 
Type Of Material Data Handling & Control 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Extensible to many table-based datasets where matching of entries is required. Has been used on experimental basis for medical work, for example. 
 
Description AMiBA collaboration 
Organisation Academia Sinica
Department Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Country Taiwan, Province of China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Diagnosis of issues in the design of AMiBA, suggestions for solutions, close collaboration on data analysis, co-authorship of papers (including much revision of English), design of some observing campaigns.
Collaborator Contribution Access to AMiBA, access to Subaru, travel and subsistence expenses in Hilo and Taipei.
Impact Multiple publications; large number of PhD students in Taipei trained on project.
 
Description XMM-LSS collaboration 
Organisation Saclay Nuclear Research Centre
Department Service d'Astrophysique
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored multiple papers and proposals; performed first SZ observations of sample clusters.
Collaborator Contribution Access to XMM-LSS datasets, pipeline analysis of datasets that allowed sekection of high-redshift clusters for follow-up research.
Impact Multiple publications on cosmology and astrophysics; development of concept for future surveys.
 
Title JSAMP 
Description Message-passing software used for interaction between distinct desktop software components used by astronomers (e.g., to relate catalogue data to images). Methodology of general application, and used in commercial products. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2010 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Used worldwide, including in Microsoft World-Wide Telescope. v1.1 release in 2010. v1,2, v1.3, v1.3-1, v1.3-2 releases in 2011 v1.3-3 release in 2012 v1.3-4 release in 2013 
URL http://www.star.bris.ac.uk/~mbt/jsamp/
 
Title STIL 
Description Library underlying TOPCAT and STILTS, used for complex pipeline catalogue manipulations. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2010 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Worldwide use. 2010 release v3.0 2011 release v3.0-1, v3.0-2, v3.0-3 2012 release v3.0-4 2013 release v3.0-5 2014 release v3.0-6, v3.0-7 
URL http://www.starlink.ac.uk/stil/
 
Title STILTS 
Description Set of command-line tools that can be used for powerful astronomical catalogue interrogation, manipulation, and plotting. 2010 releases v2.1-2, v2.2, v2.2-1 2011 releases v2.3, v2.3-1, v2.4 2013 releases v2.5, v2.5-1, v2.5-2 2014 releases v2.5-3, v3.0 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2010 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Heavily used in catalogue manipulation, world-wide. 
URL http://www.starlink.ac.uk/stilts/
 
Title TOPCAT 
Description Astronomical data-handling software 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2010 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Used internationally for interaction with large distributed databases. 2010 releases v3.5-2, v3.6, v3.7 2011 releases v3.8, v3.9 2013 releases v4.0b, v4.0-1 2014 releases v4.1, v4.2 
URL http://www.starlink.ac.uk/topcat/