NOAO Nighttime Data Archiving at NOAO

Nighttime Data Archiving at NOAO - Save the bits
(Poster delivered at IAU-22)

R. Seaman, C. Pilachowski

The reasons to archive astronomical data are familiar: to preserve each time varying glimpse of the sky for future researchers and to compile a coherent database whose value is more than the sum of the individual observations. An archive can also safeguard individual observers' data from mishap. The advent of digital array detectors makes it almost a matter of conscience for ground based optical/IR observatories to join the orbiting observatories and radio observatories in archiving data.

The "Save the Bits" archive of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories has been in operation for over a year at Kitt Peak National Observatory and will soon be in operation at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. This low cost program relies on existing network infrastructure to collect and store images on Exabyte tape. Observers at KPNO telescopes acquire over 250,000 CCD and IR array images (totaling about 500 Gbytes) each year. Recently added features include a duplicate taping mode and FITS checksum verification. Facilities for producing thumbnail images and ties to our observing proposal database are being designed. We hope to recast the FITS header catalog into a more accessible database format by the time the 18 month proprietary period expires for the first images in the archive.

Rob Seaman