||FIDIA: A Format Independent Data Interface for Astronomy
||512, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXV
||Green, A. W.; Mannering, E.; Harischandra, L.; O'Toole, S.
||We present a Python package for interacting with data for
astronomical objects in a consistent and intuitive manner,
regardless of the source or format of the data.
Considerable past work has focused on standardised formats and protocols
for working with data. However, these tools are structured around
images and tables, not stars and galaxies.
We take such work a step further by defining an interface to data on
disk, on the web, in a database, etc. with a structure described by
a vocabulary (based in part on existing vocabularies) for the
physical properties of astronomical sources. In our Data Interface,
the data are structured in samples of astronomical objects, such as
stars and galaxies, with data members such as spectra, magnitudes
and velocities. This structure provides a uniform model that is
intuitive to the astronomer, simplifying analysis and visualisation.
The package accepts that data will always be available in a wide
variety of formats and places, and therefore it provides a formulaic
way to connect to and import from new data sources such as on the
user's computer. Cross matching is done between data sources as
needed. Throughout, the package has been designed to deliver the
most likely result (with a warning) in the face of ambiguity, such
as multiple versions of data or multiple potential cross-matches,
but allow for arbitrary, repeatable reconfiguration. The package
takes care of mundane details such as memory management, local
caching, unit conversions, etc. The astronomer can use this package
to leverage existing data about their stars or galaxies in their
analysis, or to rapidly apply existing analysis tools based on this
package to new data.