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Paper: The Astronomical Virtual Observatory: Lessons Learned, Looking Forward
Volume: 461, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXI
Page: 247
Authors: Genova, F.
Abstract: The astronomical Virtual Observatory (VO) aims at providing seamless access to the wealth of the discipline's on-line resources, hence at developing global interoperability between them. This is coordinated by the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). The paper summarizes the VO history and current evolution. During the first period of VO development, a huge amount of work has been devoted to the development of basic interoperability standards, to set up the VO framework for publication of data and for tools interoperability. This has proven to be a major asset for seamless usage of data. Now the VO is in operation, and the emphasis on supporting the take-up by astronomers and data providers, as well as on outreach, is increasing. A census of European astronomical data centres performed in 2009/2010 shows a large interest in the VO, and a wide diversity of sizes and organisations, in the data centre community. The different strands of work of an operational VO, and the challenges ahead are described, taking in particular the example of the European VO. The European implementation of the VO has been moulded by the specific organisation of European astronomy, with complementary roles of the national and European levels. Local and national projects contribute to the VO development and implementation in their domains of interest and expertise. Several projects supported by the European Commission have helped to shape Euro-VO, with a strong emphasis on coordination of national and intergovernmental agency projects, with actions towards astronomers, data centres and VO developers, including during the last period of outreach towards education and the public. The Astronet Infrastructure Roadmap for European astronomy (2009) has recognized data and the VO as one of the infrastructures of astronomy. The way forward in this context is discussed. In conclusion, the astronomical data infrastructure is put in perspective with the general trends around scientific data.
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