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STARDEV  August 2006

STARDEV August 2006

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Subject:

GAIA, PLASTIC, catalogues

From:

Mark Taylor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Starlink development <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 14 Aug 2006 18:55:49 +0100

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TEXT/PLAIN (71 lines)

Peter, Tim etc,

I've now added most of the required catalogue-related functionality
to GAIA.  You can now load a table into TOPCAT, broadcast it to GAIA,
and then have fun making selections of single or multiple rows in 
the one and passing them to the other.  The new facilities are
documented in the updated gaia.htx/plastic.html.

I'd say this has arrived at the point where the two tools interact 
together in a way that actually allows you to do science that 
would have been difficult before - for instance you can plot a 
colour-magnitude diagram in TOPCAT, then click on particular outliers 
to see where they are in the image, or click on symbols 
plotted on the image to see where they are in the colour space, 
or select an interesting branch in the C-M diagram using TOPCAT's
blob-selection facility and see which objects on the image 
fall into that category.  To a degree you could do similar 
things before, e.g. using the "Condition" field of GAIA's
plot symbols window, or saving tables from one place and loading them
in another, but the fact you can do it a lot more easily and 
interactively now means that various things are possible in practice
now which would have been too fiddly to bother with before.

I should say this isn't exactly the first time this sort of thing
has been done, since TOPCAT can already talk in very similar ways
to Aladin, but for people who use GAIA, either for historical
reasons or because they need GAIA's analysis facilities, this
should be a useful development.

I've checked this lot into CVS on the trunk.  Since the keoe deadline
was a couple of weeks ago I presume it's too late for that, though
I do recall Tim commenting that the schedule had been put back a bit...

Further comments:

 - GAIA uses STILTS, which it looks for in ${STILTS_DIR}, to do
   VOTable<->TST conversions.  I've updated etc/init/login.in
   (and now etc/init/profile.in) accordingly.

 - You can currently only do PLASTIC catalogue business in GAIA with
   a catalogue that originated from PLASTIC (e.g. was sent by TOPCAT).
   You can't take a table that you've acquired from GAIA's Data-Servers
   menu and inject that into the PLASTIC system.  I should probably
   add this.

 - The various catalogue receive and send operations are done in a
   blocking fashion, without on-screen progress bars or the possibility
   for the user to interrupt.  I don't know whether this is considered 
   bad practice within GAIA.

 - Sending large catalogue row selections is currently shockingly
   inefficient - O(N*M) for transmitting an M-row selection from 
   an N-row catalogue - so could cause problems for large 
   (>~1E4-row?) tables.  I can't see how to do these in a more 
   sensible way, at least not without some fairly major reworking
   of the AstroCat class or descendants.  Peter, maybe you could
   take a quick look at PlasticSearch.tcl and see if you 
   have any bright ideas (if it's not immediately obvious to you 
   what the problem is let me know and I'll provide more commentary).

 - Since GAIA now has access to STILTS, it wouldn't be too much 
   extra work to provide catalogue load/save facilities for all 
   the formats supported by STIL (including VOTable).  This may 
   or may not be something you're interested in doing.

Mark

-- 
Mark Taylor   Astronomical Programmer   Physics, Bristol University, UK
[log in to unmask] +44-117-928-8776 http://www.star.bris.ac.uk/~mbt/

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