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Start here - primer to using the VSA

Login info - Regsitered users should first login as some of the information and forms are tailored to a specific type of user. If you do not login your queries will be directed to the world accessible VISTA survey data.

Categories of user access:

  • registered VISTA survey user - Public Survey team members from ESO countries
  • registered open-time user - can access the database set-up for their programme , login using proprietary community (open-time PIs should contact vsa-support to set-up their account).
  • un-registered user - can access VISTA survey data once the respective proprietary periods have passed (see data policy).

Archive contents The VISTA Science Archive contains static released databases of survey data. Image metadata and source catalogue data are held in the databases, with links to flat FITS files produced by pipeline processing. Once released, survey databases will not change. In addition to the static databases, access to a continually updating database (known as "VSA") is also allowed for registered users to get rapid access to pipeline-processed flat FITS files in order to facilitate casual browsing of survey data. Note however that this VSA ingest database is subject to data modification (ingest, rollback, quality control) without warning. After an appropriate proprietary period has expired, data and/or databases will become open-access for unregistered access by anyone. A more detailed description of the data and how it is held in the archive is given in the data overview. The coverage of the various releases of the VISTA surveys is shown on the surveys page.

Particular attention should be given to notes detailing limitations and known issues, see overview and release history.

The database schema and contents can be explored using the schema browser.

Accessing data - the various ways of accessing and querying the archive are also listed on the data access page. First-time users should consult this page in addition to reading the summary below.

  • Image data - VISTA images (referred to as multiframes) are held in the archive as multi-extension FITS files.
    • Image List - list and retrieve the full FITS files of multiframes (also returns links to any associated catalogue FITS files)
  • Catalogue data - source extraction code run on science multiframe images produces catalogue FITS files. The objects in these files are ingested into the relevant survey/programme detection table (e.g. vhsDetection). VISTA surveys also have a source table (e.g. vhsSource) which is populated by merging common objects (based on position) across the various wavebands.
    • Freeform SQL - submit an SQL query directly. Allows the more experienced user to perform powerful SQL searches of the archive (see the SQL cookbook for examples).
  • Meta-data - header information and other meta-data from the archived FITS files are also stored in tables in the archive. The ones that are most likely to be used are multiframe, multiframeDetector and currentAstrometry. These can be queried using Freeform SQL
  • Help - please consult the following documentation before contacting us for help. If you still cannot find the answer to your problem in the above documentation, then email us (email address is given right at the bottom of this page).

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    Links | Credits

    WFAU, Institute for Astronomy,
    Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill
    Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ, UK