Jessica's Astronomical Data Format Papers

Astronomical Data Formats BoF
Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXIV
Calgary, Alberta, October 4-9, 2014
Jessica Mink, Robert G. Mann, Robert Hanisch, Arnold Rots, Rob Seaman, Tim Jenness, William O'Mullane

The future of astronomy is inextricably entwined with the care and feeding of astronomical data products. Community standards such as FITS and NDF have been instrumental in the success of numerous astronomy projects. Their very success challenges us to entertain pragmatic strategies to adapt and evolve the standards to meet the aggressive data-handling requirements of facilities now being designed and built. We discuss characteristics that have made standards successful in the past, as well as desirable features for the future, and an open discussion follows.

Astronomical Data Formats: What we have and how we got here
Astronomy and Computing Special Issue on the Future of Astronomical Data Formats
Jessica Mink

Despite almost all being acquired as photons, astronomical data from different instruments and at different stages in its life may exist in different formats to serve different purposes. Beyond the data itself, descriptive information is associated with it as metadata, either included in the data format or in a larger multi-format data structure. Those formats may be used for the acquisition, processing, exchange, and archiving of data. It has been useful to use similar formats, or even a single standard to ease interaction with data in its various stages using familiar tools. Knowledge of the evolution and advantages of present standards is useful before we discuss the future of how astronomical data is formatted. The evolution of the use of world coordinates in FITS is presented as an example.