Database and astronomical catalogues

We don’t notice it, but in the everyday life the so called “databases” are being used in a long list of applications and management systems aimed at handling archives of bank accounts, tickets booking, telecommunication, public office registers, etc. To find information about a person in a list of several millions is a matter of a second or less.

The capability to store and exchange data as well as to quickly select a subset of them starting from specific conditions or needs, is a crucial aspect for astronomy too. Modern catalogues count up to billion objects, each unique or patially different from all the others.

Being able to quickly select some of them on the basis of their position on the celestial sphere is an operation more complex than one can think. The reason being that the objects lie on a surface and it is not flat.

Because in a database the data must be “ordered” to be quickly identified and the position of astronomical objects is defined by 2 angles, what we have done at IASF-BO, among other things, is to create a software that allows to automatically handle tables hosting data that include spherical coordinates. In collaboration with Turin Observatory we also give access to some 50 catalogues of otpical and infrared sources.

Ground Segment for space missions

The Ground Segment of a space telescope is a complex system that allows to control and manage the satellite and the on-board telescope (the so called payload) and allows us to receive, process and store all the scientific data.

Our Institute has gained deeper experience in the field of Ground Segment of various space missions (Beppo-SAX, Integral, Planck and AGILE), with activities carried out in particular on the management of the scientific data. They range from the definition of the Ground Segment architecture to the software development for scientific data processing, from the scientific data archive management to the health monitoring of the space telescope, as in the case of AGILE and Planck missions.

Starting ideally from the Beppo-Sax experience, for AGILE space mission it has been developed a Science Alert System that generates an alert through both SMS and email for each candidate gamma-ray flare detected in the AGILE data within 1.5-2 hours since the time of the last event acquired in orbit. Recently this alert system has been integrated in a Mobile App.
Thanks to this fast alert system the most important astrophysical events can be reported to astrophysical community when they are still in progress. The best results of AGILE space mission are started from here, including the Bruno Rossi prize 2012 to Marco Tavani and AGILE Team for the discovery of variable gamma-ray emission from the Crab Nebula.