The ESAC Science Data Centre

Presenting, promoting and preserving reliable space data from ESA missions

The ESAC Science Data Centre (ESDC), located at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid (Spain), provides services and tools to access and retrieve observations and data from ESA's space science missions (Astronomy, Planetary Sciences and Heliophysics), in coordination with the science operation centres, the instrument teams and the consortia from the various missions.
At the ESDC, software engineers and scientists work hand in hand to provide easy and intuitive access to space data from all ESA missions. The team is an active member of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) and the International Planetary Data Alliance (IPDA).


New Cluster web-based archive interface

Space weather data, now on your browser! The first Release Candidate provides some key functionalities from the official CSA Java version, including data download and quick parameter visualisation.

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ESASky, your gate to all space Astronomy data... and publications!

By B. López Martí & D. Baines
ESASky is a discovery portal to all data from ESA's space astronomy archives, plus a number of datasets from other partners. Its advanced visualisation capabilities enable easy exploration and selection of the data even for non-expert users. The application allows users to explore and retrieve science-ready imaging, catalogue and spectroscopic data from all ESA missions, and some non-ESA missions (Chandra, SUZAKU). It also provides a tool to help users in the preparation of JWST observations. Another exciting feature is the possibility to search for data of Solar System Objects: Just enter the name of your object, and the application will open a treemap showing the number of observations available in the archives that match in space and time the location of that object. By clicking on one of the coloured boxes in the treemap, a table opens with information on the available data, and the observational footprints are displayed along the orbit of the object over the whole sky. The search is not limited to observations that explicitly targeted that object, thus allowing the discovery of serendipitious observations.
In addition, the latest version of ESASky (v2.1), released on February 14, now offers access to scientific publications. By clicking on the corresponding button, the tool shows all sources with publications in a given field-of-view; clicking on each source loads the publications for that object recorded in the SIMBAD database, including a link to the paper in ADS, and a button to load the sources of each individual paper to ESASky for further analysis. This version also improves the responsiveness of the application, in order to enhance the user experience with mobile devices. 


New Cluster web archive interface

By A. Masson, B. Martínez, H. Pérez & H. Middleton

Cluster is a constellation of four spacecraft orbiting Earth and providing information, for the first time in 3D, on how the solar wind affects our planet. Until very recently, access to the Cluster data products was only possible through a Java interface that needed to be installed locally in the user's computer, or via the command line.
Since November 2017, it is now possible to query the Cluster Science Archive (CSA) with a Release Candidate of a web-based interface. The available version (2.0.rc1) provides some key functionalities of the operational Java version: data download, metadata visualisation and quick browsing of various key physical parameters (e.g. DC magnetic field, electron and ion density, electric field wave spectrograms, etc.). The visualisation of these parameters is made possible by the systematic pre-generation of rectangular panels displaying these key products. Of 1h, 6h or 24h long duration, users can stack these panels at their convenience. More than 140 million of these pre-generated panels are stored in the CSA, amounting to more than 22 TB; they are generated at the ESDC.
The remaining data services (e.g. on-demand duration plotting and quicklook plots, distribution function visualisation or inventory plots) will be incrementally implemented through successive release candidates. The next release is scheduled for Spring 2018.

The Planetary Science Archive, a single portal to all ESA planetary data

By S. Besse & B. López Martí

The Planetary Science Archive (PSA) provides direct and simple access to data from all ESA missions that have explored the planets, moons and minor bodies in our Solar System. It contains science-ready data that have been validated by the mission teams and by independent experts from the community, and that are compliant with the Planetary Data System standards.
The last major version (5.0), released January 2017, featured a completely new interface and more dynamic query capabilities. Since then, a number of minor releases have kept improving the user experience. Current version (5.4) was released on February 7, 2018.
In particular, filtering capabilites have been improved. As before, users can search by a number of criteria such as mission, instrument, or target; but now, when one or several options are selected, the rest of the menus indicate the options available that match with the selected criteria. For example, if we are interested in data about Phobos, the tool will indicate that the missions providing those data are Mars Express and Rosetta (only the orbiter); the rest of the mission names will be shown in italics. And similarly, with the rest of the menus. This helps users identify those missions and instruments that actually contain data that may be of their interest, speeding up the search process, and at the same time, helping the user discover the content of the archive. By default, the last product version of the data is provided, but users can choose to browse all versions if they wish to.

IUE data, still available to astronomers four decades later!

By B. López Martí & P. Kretschmar

The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) was launched on the 26th of January 1978, and operated until 1996, making it one of the longest-lived astronomical satellites. Forty years later, on the 29th of January 2018, ESAC astronomers and engineers (in the picture) gathered to remember and celebrate what was not only one of the most successful astronomical missions ever, but also paved the way for many missions to come.
At the ESDC, we take the opportunity of this jubilee to remind our users that the IUE spectral data are now available for the community through ESASky. Users can now visualise the IUE spectroscopic footprints in their chosen sky, inspect the spectra with the corresponding postcards, and download their selected science-ready data directly from the IUE archive (INES), hosted by our neighbour, the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB).
Image: P. Kretschmar

First meeting of the Heliophysics User Group

By A. Masson & G. de Marchi

On 16-17 January 2018, the Heliophysics Archives User Group (HAUS) met at ESAC. This was the first meeting of a user group dedicated to the Heliophysics archives. Appointed for two years, the members of the HAUS act as ambassadors and relate to ESA the opinion of the community on how the Heliophysics archives and related tools are being used. The group is composed of six external experts in the following scientific areas: helioseismology, solar atmosphere physics, solar and interplanetary transients, heliophysics particles and fields.
With the help of the HAUS, we first and foremost intend to get feedback on what should be improved in the ESDC Solar and Heliophysics individual archives. But there is more. Member of the HAUS are invited to step back and, through their comprehensive view, help us build an overarching ESDC Solar and Heliophysics data archive. Topics include: data visualisation, content search, orbit visualisation, impact of solar transients in the heliosphere (a potential link to the PSA), and a common interface.
Note that tools to visualise or search archive data have been, and are being, developed for individual missions at ESA, some are developed outside ESA though supported by ESA, and others are supported by EU projects or national space agencies. By putting together key players from the community, we will make sure that we work in concert.
Image: NASA

Third meeting of the PSA User Group

By S. Besse & B. López Martí

The third meeting of the PSA User Group for the period 2016/2020 was held at ESAC on 11-12 January 2018. Group members reviewed the archive usage statistics and the status of development of the archives from upcoming missions. They also discussed new possible use cases and data products to be implemented in the PSA.
The minutes from the meeting are available in the PSA-UG webpage. The page also provides general information on the User Group, including contact information.