The CXC Data Analysis and Data Access Environment
The next major release of the Chandra Interactive Analysis of Observations (CIAO 4.3) software system finally meets the goal we set out to achieve several years ago to modernize the infrastructure and capabilities of CIAO.
The infrastructure has been redesigned to achieve package independence: our major applications (Sherpa and ChIPS) and tool set are now available separately or in combination. This configuration allows us to patch small, well-defined parts of the system independently.
We now support a single scripting language. With an active scientific community, Python is a good choice for meeting the scripting needs of our users, and has been fully integrated as our user environment.
The Crates data access library has been further developed to separate data access from application processing. Crates wraps the CIAO Datamodel, and provides a Python scripting interface with all of the capabilities of the parent library.
Further development of Sherpa and ChIPS has been a major functional driver for CIAO. Because we anticipate use of the applications outside of the Chandra community, we have provided methods for users to replace Crates (or ChIPS in the case of Sherpa) with external modules such as PyFITS and Matplotlib. We have seen evidence of this intended use of Sherpa by the Python community.
Development of new data analysis tools has been driven mainly by efforts to build the Chandra Source Catalog (CSC). Fourteen new catalog tools have been added to CIAO. To further support the CSC we have developed the CSCview catalog data access and data mining application, and the CSC Sky application to visualize the catalog fields and sources in Google Earth.
We demonstrate the new 'face' of CIAO, the interfaces to the CSC, and discuss the software lifecycle that are all working in unison to support the Chandra mission and users.
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