Public Release of the European archive for Webb and First Science

By Marcos López-Caniego (Support Scientist, Aurora Technology B.V. for ESA), Maria Arévalo (Software Engineer, Rhea Group for ESA), Javier Ballester (Software Engineer, Rhea Group for ESA), Javier Espinosa (Software Engineer, Rhea Group for ESA), Alvaro Labiano (eJWST Support Archive Scientist, Telespazio for ESA) and Anthony Marston (eJWST Archive Scientist).

The European archive of the James Webb Space Telescope (eJWST), hosted at the ESAC Science Data Centre, supports the scientific community providing a quick and intuitive access to Webb's public data products from Europe. On 12th July 2022 Webb's Early Release Observations were presented and since 13th July they are accessible from the STScI in the USA, the CADC in Canada and the eJWST in Europe.
The Early Release Observations and Early Release Science data, as well as any Webb data product tagged as public (such as the Commissioning data), are retrieved from STScI servers, ingested into the eJWST archive and made available to users within minutes of pipeline processing. In addition, access to proprietary data products is possible from the eJWST, for those users with the necessary credentials.
The eJWST can be used in various ways. For users interested in accessing specific objects or observing proposals, the eJWST quick search area provides access to the data from the archive home page with the click of a button. For more advance users with previous knowledge of Webb's instruments and observing modes, the eJWST offers a classical search interface to access and download the data contents of the archive for different processing levels. In both cases, the search results are shown in a results table where the details of each observation are shown, including preview images, quick visualization tools for images and spectral cubes, and links for downloading the data. Moreover, for users willing to select and download multiple observations at once, a shopping basket is available where users can access the list of files to be downloaded and decide whether to download the data directly or via the asynchronous batch download functionality.
The results table is also complemented with an embedded instance of ESASky that is used to provide context and access to a wide variety of images, catalogues and spectra from tens of ground and space based missions. The ESASky context window also provides access to the ESASky JWST planning tool, that projects onto ESASky the JWST instruments within the JWST focal plane.
The eJWST archive user interface also offers two novel ways of exploring the archive. The first one is the ESASky Search, where users will be able to explore Webb's products using a customized instance of ESASky where the telescope’s instruments and product types can be accessed very easily following the intuitive ESASky ”tree-maps” approach. Moreover, the eJWST allow users to query directly the archive databases using the ADQL Search area. This is a very advanced feature available in other astronomy archives like Gaia and Euclid that gives users full access to the extended products metadata.
As a complement to the eJWST archive user interface, the archive team has developed the ESA JWST Astroquery module that can be used to query the eJWST databases to explore and download any data product, both public or proprietary (for users with the necessary credentials) from a simple python script or notebook. The ESA JWST astroquery module is publicly available in astroquery and has been pre-installed in the JWST research areas of ESA Datalabs, the new cloud based science exploitation platform developed by the Data Science and Archives Division at ESAC, that will be released publicly in the second half of 2022. The JWST research areas in ESA Datalabs will also provide access to the official JWST calibration pipeline and associated calibration files, plus example notebooks showing how to explore and download data from the archive.

Gaia’s third Data Release

By Jos de Bruijne (Gaia Archive Scientist), Héctor Cánovas (Gaia Support Archive Scientist, Telespazio UK for ESA), Jorgo Bakker (Senior Science Operations System Engineer), and the Astronomy Survey Missions Archives Development Team: Pilar de Teodoro (Aurora Technology B.V. for ESA), Carlos Ríos (RHEA Group for ESA), María Henar Sarmiento (Aurora Technology B.V. for ESA), Jorge Fernández (RHEA Group for ESA), Sara Nieto (RHEA Group for ESA), Mónica Fernández (RHEA Group for ESA), Tomás Alonso (RHEA Group for ESA), Paolo Pesciullesi (RHEA Group for ESA), with great collaborative support from the Science and Operations IT Unit (SITU)

Monday 13 June 2022 marked a “small push of a button” for the Science and Operations IT Unit (SITU) of ESA’s Directorate of Science but a giant leap for the Gaia Collaboration and astronomy. At 12:00 CEST sharp, our SITU colleagues unlocked public access to the Gaia ESA Archive at ESDC, thereby revealing a wealth of new data in Gaia’s third data release (Gaia DR3), ranging from asteroids and stars with their star quakes to double stars and galaxies and quasars.
The data release, meticulously produced by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) in collaboration with ESA, encompasses 86 “plain tables” that are accessible through the Table Access Protocol (TAP). In addition, it features several complex data products, such as millions of light curves, spectra, and Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) samples, that are accessible through the DataLink protocol.
Users can access the data through a variety of tools, for instance Python, making use of the astroquery.gaia package, a command-line interface, or a cone-search service (e.g., from within Topcat or PyVO). At ESDC, the data are accessible through ESASky, through the bulk download repository, which contains some 10 TB of compressed ECSV files, and through the Gaia ESA Archive web interface. The latter offers a basic search form, for single sources and short lists of objects, an advanced (ADQL) form, for “all functionality”, including DataLink access, a visualisation service for bulk data, and extensive help pages, including many new tutorials, Jupyter notebooks, FAQs, example queries, etc.
This ground-breaking data set has already proven to be in popular demand. The image shows users in Europe at 12:09 CEST, 9 minutes into the data release, but strong activity was seen across the globe. In the first 24 hours, some 189,000 queries were launch by some 4800 users in more than 100 countries. They collectively generated more than 730 GB of query results and download nearly 40 TB of data from the bulk download repository. We wish our readers happy continued Gaia DR3 data mining at

The Archival Research Visitor Programme

By Guido de Marchi (ESDC Science Lead)

An excellent opportunity for early-career scientists to learn how to include ESA archival data in their research is the Archival Research Visitor Programme. Proposals for research projects making use of publicly available archival data are reviewed twice a year by an independent committee composed of community and ESA scientists. The committee just selected the six most promising projects among those submitted in the latest call for proposals. We are thrilled to welcome these six Visiting Scientists (listed above), who will travel to ESAC and ESTEC in the fall and winter months to pursue their research in a number of space science fields. The next application deadline is 31 October 2022 for visits in spring and summer of 2023. We are looking forward to receiving your proposals too!
Image: ESA

Gaia DR3 and JWST data in ESASky

By Deborah Baines (Support Archive Scientist, Quasar Science Resources for ESA), Marcos López-Caniego (Support Scientist, Aurora Technology B.V. for ESA) and the ESASky developmet team: Javier Espinosa (Rhea Group for ESA), Henrik Norman (Winter Way AB), Mattias Wångblad (Winter Way AB) and Philip Matsson (Winter Way AB)

The latest releases of ESASky provide access to the main Gaia DR3 catalogue and the JWST Early Release Observations and Early Release Science data. Both ESASky releases occurred on the same day as the Gaia and JWST data releases in the Gaia archive and eJWST archive respectively.
In addition, the JWST planning tool has been updated to include the latest geometric focal plane descriptions and can be used to help define JWST future observation proposals, before using the JWST Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT). JWST imaging HiPS (the background skies) are being created by the mission archive team and will be available in ESASky. These skies will automatically update as the JWST data become publically available. And finally, to help discover the JWST Early Release data, a list of the Webb Early Release Targets has been added to the predefined target lists (found in the top right search field). Enjoy the tool!

First Python in Heliophysics (PyHC) summer school

By Arnaud Masson (Support Heliophysics Archives Science Lead, Telespazio UK for ESA)

The first Python in Heliophysics Community (PyHC) summer school was held at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), 30 May – 3 June 2022. Lead developers of popular Python packages like SunPy, pySPEDAS, SpacePy or smaller packages like SolarMACH, presented a deep dive into their package.
The Summer School was geared towards all graduate students, early career scientists, but also established scientists looking to transition to Python in the Heliophysics and Space Weather disciplines. Nearly 500 signed up to attend, with participants from 43 countries spread across 5 continents. During the summer school itself, there were approximately 300 people online, including 60 at ESA/ESAC. The event was live streamed, and the sessions recorded on the PyHC YouTube channel.
After providing background on their project, the lead developers dove into demos and tutorials, showcasing their package’s functionalities with scientific use cases. Demos and tutorials were provided via premade Jupyter notebooks on the NASA Goddard Heliocloud, running on Amazon Web Services. Interaction between actors of this scientific platform and the ESA DataLabs scientific platform was held during this workshop to foster collaboration. This event was sponsored by the ESDC and NASA and held in the framework of the COSPAR International Space Weather Action Teams (ISWAT) Information Architecture and data utilization cluster.
Image: S. Polson

2022 European Astronomical Society meeting

By Guido de Marchi (ESDC Science Lead)

There was a strong ESA presence at the European Astronomical Society meeting in Valencia, Spain, during the last week of June. Enriched by impressive scale models of Gaia, JWST, and Euclid, the ESA booth at the conference was very popular among people interested in current and future missions, as well as to collect their preferred posters, stickers, and pins. The conference was an excellent opportunity for the ESDC to interact with community scientists from all over Europe. A specific session on the ESA Space Science Archives was well attended. Members of the ESDC provided presentations and demos on ESASky and the soon-to-be released DataLabs. Representatives of the Astronomy Archives Users Group shared with the community their experience and involvement and, together with ESDC members, stimulated the discussion on important decisions to be made in the future, concerning data clouds, accessibility of the data, and reproducibility of scientific results.
In a presentation about the impact of archival research, ESDC members showed that the majority of refereed papers based on data from ESA missions are actually "archival papers". These are papers written by authors who were not directly involved in the original instrument, experiment, or proposal that produced those data. This finding applies to papers in all areas of space science, not only Astronomy, but also Heliophysics and Planetary Science. Archival papers typically receive a number of citation comparable to that of the non-archival papers. This attests to the important contribution given by archival research to the advancement of science.
Images: ESA

Planetary Science Informatics and Data Analytics Conference at ESAC, 21-23 June 2022

By Mark Bentley (Planetary Archives Science Lead)


After more than two years of COVID restrictions, ESAC was very pleased to welcome participants (in person and online) to the Planetary Science Informatics and Data Analytics (PSIDA) conference in June. Covering a wide range of topics from machine learning to data archiving and tools for planetary science, PSIDA 2022 attracted over one hundred participants, with more than half joining in person. As a true hybrid conference, speakers, poster presenters and even session chairs took part from across the globe as well as in Madrid.
In case you missed it, the presentations and posters are available online here. PSIDA will return to St Louis, Missouri in 2024.
Image: ESA