What is the AKARI Catalogue Archive Server?
The AKARI Catalogue Archive Server (AKARI-CAS) (see Figure) is a newly developed data-access service to support a variety of research using the all-sky survey infrared astronomical catalogs of the infrared astronomical satellite AKARI. The service is open to the public as a part of DARTS (http://darts.jaxa.jp/), which is operated by the Center for Science Satellite Operation and Data Archive (C-SODA) at ISAS. The number of access hits to AKARI-CAS for three months since the launch on March 30, 2010, was over 100,000. At present, the service attracts 10,000 to 20,000 access hits per month constantly, proving that it is a world-class data access service.
This article first briefly introduces the AKARI Catalogues, then offers a simple guide to AKARI-CAS including basic issues related to data-access service.
AKARI all-sky Survey Infrared Astronomical Catalog - Revolutionary outcome of Japanese space science
Two infrared point source catalogs covering about 1.3 million objects that had been retrieved by the AKARI all-sky survey was released to astronomers on March 30, 2010. It was a big event for astronomers engaged in a variety of research around the world, because statistical analysis of observation data of many objects is indispensable to answer the fundamental question of the "evolution of the universe." With its uniform quality and large volume of objects, AKARI's astronomical catalogs have extremely high scientific value. It is even more valuable because it covers the entire sky that could only be produced by occupying an onboard telescope for a long time. In conclusion, it is the most epoch-making catalogs of all data products produced in Japan until now.
Importance of data-access service development
A huge financial investment and years of human endeavor are required to launch a satellite, retrieve observation data, and make the data available for research. This is not specific to AKARI. The data obtained as a result of such efforts can be likened to gemstones. Researchers analyze the data (i.e., gemstones) from a variety of facets and polish them to become scientific outcomes (jewels).
In the process, researcher efficiency in collecting and analyzing the necessary data is very important. This is because the more efficient the research, the greater the yield of scientific results. One important key to draw out more results from data is to develop excellent analysis tools and data-access services from the standpoint of researchers.
The importance of the data-utilization environment has long been recognized in foreign countries, along with R&D efforts to build them. Professional data-processing teams are assigned to foreign research institutes to establish schemes where researchers can exchange information and pursue their research more effectively. In Japan, unfortunately, efforts in this field have been insufficient and, consequently, Japan lags behind other countries. If the present situation continues, there is a concern that Japan may give the impression that its view on the scientific data-utilization environment is immature since the data-utilization environment is particularly conspicuous.
As mentioned above, the infrared-astronomical catalogs produced from AKARI is an epoch-making data product for Japan, and a vast investment for the nation. It is Japan's responsibility to guarantee AKARI's deliverables until the end of the project. The development of its own data-access service is significant not only for domestic researchers to conduct their research effectively, but also for Japan to demonstrate its proactive attitude to foreign countries.