AKARI-CAS's ultra-handy new tool
As stated above, match-up of catalog-to-catalog and direct SQL input are not generally available functions. Moreover, one unprecedented service not offered by any other countries' service is AKARI-CAS's "Match-up AKARI catalogs with Cached SIMBAD/NED catalogs." Let me introduce it here.
This tool was newly added in June 2010. It allows you to join immediately some entries in the AKARI Catalogues to corresponding entries contained in a number of already released astronomical catalogs and obtain the result.
Many readers must know the "Messier catalog." Do you know, for example, how many Messier objects are listed in the AKARI Catalogues? To count the number, we generally need to take the following steps: first prepare a list of Messier objects; and, then, upload the list to a tool of data-access services (in case of AKARI-CAS, the Cross ID tool). Using AKARI-CAS's new tool, however, we can promptly obtain the result simply by inputting "M%" to the entry field. Since the number of objects in the Messier catalog is only 110, preparing the list manually is not that time consuming. If the catalog contains up to 100 million objects like 2MASS* and SDSS**, however, the check will not be immediate. With the new tool, we can search instantly just by inputting "2MASS%" or "SDSS%" even for such huge catalogs.
This new tool also allows us to search the AKARI Catalogues according to type of object (e.g., galaxy, star). Although many researches require search by type of object, the catalog set provided by AKARI team does not contain such information. In this regard, the tool is very effective and helpful.
In the past, work such as match-up with other catalogs and/or addition of object-type information have usually been carried out as troublesome, laborious chores by the researchers themselves. This new labor-saving tool allows researchers to conduct research more efficiently than ever before.
Several months ago, talking about the new tool to a researcher visiting ISAS, JAXA, he realized immediately that, "With this tool I can do what I want to do simply by inputting xxx to the entry field!" This shows that information exchange with data system developers helps researchers effectively pursue research. The web server logs show that researchers in foreign countries have recently become aware of the tool.
For more complete service
At present, images from the AKARI all-sky survey have not yet been released to the public. Even using the image-browsing tool of AKARI-CAS, we cannot see images from AKARI. This situation is unsatisfactory and we are often asked, "When will you release the images?"
A project to produce high-quality image data from the all-sky survey was initiated before. The work is progressing well now and the image data is expected to be available within one or two years. In the meantime, the catalog is being continuously upgraded to allow more detailed analysis.
Our service will be more perfect if we can provide, in addition to the catalog, scan-density information and image data on AKARI-CAS. Furthermore, the combined utilization of catalog data along with image data will enable new research. We believe that new data-releases and enhancements in the future will live up to user expectations.
This article stresses the importance of data-access service development. One of the most important research themes for us, data-processing professionals, is to develop services like AKARI-CAS and provide researchers with an environment to support efficient research. Through development of the data-access service and enhancement of archive and support systems, the Center for Science Satellite Operation and Data Archive (C-SODA), a data center at ISAS, aims to support researchers engaged in space science.
Meanwhile we hope that, through our development and release of AKARI-CAS, the importance of the establishment of a data-utilization environment will be recognized and help grow R&D in all space sciences in Japan.
* 2MASS (Two Micron All Sky Survey)
This is an all-sky survey project in the near-infrared band by 1.3 meter ground-based telescopes. The 2MASS catalog includes about 470,000,000 objects.
** SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey)
This is a survey project in visible band by a 2.5 meter ground-based telescope. The DR7 (7th data release) of this astronomical catalog includes about 350,000,000 objects.