New Astrophysics Data and Interfaces

Volume 12, Number 3, September 1996
By David Leisawitz

The NASA Data Archive Distribution Service (NDADS), sponsored by the Space Science Data Operations Office at NASA/GSFC, provides fast, automated access to data through a variety of user interfaces. Data are provided within minutes in response to a typical request. Currently, the NDADS archive contains about 1.5 TB of astrophysics, space physics, and solar physics data from 32 individual "projects." As measured by byte count, most of the archive consists of astrophysics data.

The archive is growing exponentially, and it is anticipated that individual NASA missions will be delivering terabytes of data in the near future. This growth is reflected in the table below, which describes just the astrophysics data added to NDADS in the period from January to July 1996.

	New Astrophysics Data
	(January-July 1996)

	Project	Data Volume
	ASCA	116.4
	IRAS	0.1
	IUE	179.6
	ROSAT	15.8
	UIT	13.3
	Total	325.2

There are both generic and customized user interfaces to NDADS. In the former category are the Web interface, which begins with a "home page" at, and the original and still widely-used E-mail approach called "ARMS" (for Automated Retrieval Mail System). In the past year the following three customized user interfaces were developed at the Astrophysics Data Facility:

  1. The Web Interface for Searching Archival Research Data (WISARD) at, which uses a relational data base to provide access to data pertaining to individual astronomical objects observed by multiple missions at multiple wavelengths. WISARD is an interface primarily, though not exclusively, to astrophysics data held in NDADS.

  2. An IRAS Archive Interface at, which provides access to the full set of IRAS data products developed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) as well as related astronomical catalogs (e.g., the 1.2 Jy IRAS Redshift Survey).

  3. The Astrophysics Multi-spectral Archive Search Engine (AMASE) at, a prototype astrophysics catalog developed using object-oriented data base technology and designed to help researchers locate archived multimission data, whether the data are held in NDADS or remotely.

These interfaces provide a variety of access paths to the data. No single approach could possibly serve the diverse needs of the astrophysics community. If any readers are members of the community and feel that their particular needs are not met by the available interfaces, NSSDC will value their suggestions and strive to implement them as resources permit. Please send comments to David Leisawitz at, or call (301) 286-0807.

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King. Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]