SOI TN 95-123

SOI Data and Information Services on the World Wide Web

Richard S. Bogart, Philip H. Scherrer, Margaret B. Stehle, Jayasree K. Suryanarayanan & Karen Tian

Center for Space Science & Astrophysics, Stanford Univerity

Table of contents


The SOHO Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) will use the World Wide Web in several ways: as a public information service providing background and sample data to the public; as a source of rapid access quick-look data for other experimenters and observers; as the network hub for data distribution services to team members and guest investigators; as the online library site for documentation; and as a planning and operational tool to be used by team members in the definition and conduct of observational and analysis campaigns. In this poster/demonstration we display those services already on the Web and discuss the implementation of other planned services.


The SOHO Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) has adopted the tools of the World Wide Web as the primary network communications service to provide timely information of interest to team members, other scientists, and the public. The primary functions of the Web services are to provide: In this poster-demonstration we discuss and illustrate the various services, both extant and planned, of the SOI Web. The poster is itself accesible on the World Wide Web at either of the URL's or On the Web the hyperlinks can of course be followed to illustrate the features discussed.

General Information

As with most World Wide Web servers, the main page and registered entry point, at URL, provides general information about the SOI and an index to major categories of data services. This includes a brief introduction About SOI, information (including references to personal and institutional home pages) about members of the SOI Team, information about forthcoming and past Team Meetings and related scientific and technical conferences, and an archive of SOI Newsletters (not yet on line). The main and general information pages attempt to provide the usual complement of external hyperlinks to related information services on the Web.

The current general information pages have been designed with the SOI participants in mind, as a way of introducing the more useful technical features we are constructing. We hope to significantly expand their breadth, however, to include background and infomational materials suitable to general browsers and especially students and educators. We are convinced that with its ease of access and enormous potential audience, the Web can provide the ideal medium for communicating the excitement and challenges of this scientific endeavor to the public from whom we must draw both support and future participation. If we can find support, we would like to provide analysis tools and sample data for educational exercises. We are currently exploring links with various educational organizations to do so.

Quick-Look Data

The Web provides the ideal mechanism for distribution of quick-look data, i.e. data that have not been definitively analyzed, but are made available as soon as possible to the scientific community for purposes of planning and conducting other observations. SOI has the potential to provide full-disk magnetograms, white-light images, Dopplergrams, and other more exotic diagnostics such as maps of integrated line-of-sight velocity power on a very regular basis, without interruptions or variations in quality. The potential users of such quick-look data include the SOI team itself and other experiments on SOHO in planning and coordinating observing campaigns, ground-based observatories in conducting both supporting observations and their own programs, and solar and space-weather forecasters.

Quick-look data services have not yet been implemented. Several formats are appropriate, depending on the nature of the data and the potential applications: HTML-based text and tables, GIF and JPEG images, MPEG movies, and binary (FITS and/or CDF) data for downloading. So far we have only made provision for data of the last type to be furnished to the SOHO Experiment Operations Facility, and this is outside the context of the Web.

Data Services

The enormous quantity and variety of data to be processed in the conduct of the SOI has required the development and implementation of a fairly sophisticated database system for tracking data and making them available to both the processing pipeline and the users. This system, the Data Storage and Distribution Service (DSDS) is being interfaced to the Web through query services to provide data access through ASCII reports, forms-based queries to the database catalog, and requests for export of selected datasets to the user.

  • Keywords
  • Data Access
  • Data Export

    Facilities will be provided to export data from Stanford. A Data Request form will be provided to fill out the details regarding the data needed and submitted to Stanford DSDS operator. Depending on the nature, size and type of data the operator would send the data by 8mm tapes or copy to local disks.

    Online Documentation Library

    There are presently over 120 SOI Technical Notes documenting various facets of the investigation, and they continue to be generated at the rate of roughly 20 per year. These notes have been aimed at internal use, although they do include a number of preprints of scientific contributions. (This poster is SOI-TN-95-123 for example.) So far the primary mode of distribution has been on paper, and we have consequently tolerated a wide variety of formats, whatever has suited the authors, including plain text, Rich Text Format, FrameMaker, Word for Windows, TeX, PostScript, and HTML. We are gradually putting as much of this body of working information online through the Web as possible. A hypertext Index of Technical Notes is available, referencing each online document. Since the large majority of the tech notes are not in HTML format, the index gives information about the format of each note, so the reader can know whether appropriate tools exist to view the document. So far only about 20% of the notes are actually online. We are in the process of assembling as many as possible and providing translations into HTML in suitable cases.

    A number of man pages for the data processing and analysis software have been converted to HTML format and placed online in the directory at URL This project is not yet incorporated in the main SOI Web services; it needs to be brought and kept up to date to be of use. Even more important, the individual man pages need to be indexed and described in a software user's guide.

    Web pages also provide a suitable medium for preparation and dissemination of scientific papers, but we have only begun to experiment with this possibility. A few of our contributions to the SOHO Workshop on Helioseismology at Asilomar (obviously including this one) have been prepared and will remain on the Web, but we do not yet have a formal structure for organizing group publications outside that of the Technical Notes. An obvious advantage to the Web is the incorporation of images, but the lack of support in Web browsers for mathematical symbols and typography is a significant drawback.

    Planning and Operational Tool

    We use the World Wide Web not only to provide information and public data, but as an active tool for defining science objectives, planning and conducting the mission operations and attendant data processing as well as distribution of data to team members. SOI is organized into a number of Science Teams with responsibility for various aspects of the mission. As the team members are widely dispersed geographically, the Web will be used to provide them with operational views into all aspects of the data flow from observations through the production of organized calibrated datasets. The same tools will be available to team members and guest investigators conducting individual science investigations.

    The core scientific program of SOI is to be achieved through a set of well-defined Team Science Objectives. The activities of each of the science teams are described in detail under each of a set of Team Science pages. There is a page of Guidelines for establishing, planning, and conducting investigations. We also provide a form for Individual Investigation Proposals.