The Virtual Solar Observatory -- the Why, What, How and Where

F. Hill3, R. Bogart2, A. Davey4, G. Dimitiglou1, J. Gurman1, P. Martens4, K. Tian2 and S. Wampler3

1NASA Goddard / SDAC
2Stanford University / CSSA
3National Solar Observatory
4Montana State University / Physics Dept.


Observational solar physics almost always involves the comparison of several dat a sets obtained by different instruments and stored in a variety of archives. Cu rrently a researcher must laboriously locate the relevant archives, search them with idiosyncratic interfaces, and retrieve the data by a number of methods. The VSO is a tool to streamline this process by providing a single unified interfac e and search tool for solar archives. Eventually this will be supplemented by di stributed computing tools which will enable queries based on data itself, in add ition to standard queries on metadata.

The VSO will enable a new class of solar research -- large-scale correlative sta tistical studies on many data sets, thereby facilitating space weather studies. An example of a use case is a helioseismic study of the subsurface structure of cornal hole boundaries and possible predictive links between the solar interior and the solar wind.

An intital prototype has been built linking archives at GSFC, Stanford, MSU, and NSO. This prototype has been constructed using a combination of XML, SOAP, and Perl technologies, and a beta release is available now. The initial set of archi ves will soon be expanded to include archives at HAO, NGDC, and selected NOAA fe ature and event catalogues. In the next 2 years, additonal service providers wil l be added, the user interface will be fully developed, and distributed computin g tools will be initiated.