would result in more efficient use of the individual astronomer's time and computer resources.


  • The committee recommends that archives of selected digital data from ground- and space-based observations should be established and made available over a high-speed national network.

The committee commends NASA's important steps in this direction for space-based data. Digital archiving is becoming increasingly important in sciences other than astronomy. Early funding for archiving could make astronomy a test bed for other disciplines. The NSF astronomy program should seek joint funding with other NSF divisions or from NSF management for a pilot archiving program but should proceed with such a program even in the absence of shared funding.

  • The committee recommends initiating promptly a technical study on the archiving of appropriate digital data from ground-based telescopes.

The study might identify the requirements for, and a preliminary design of, a national digital distributed astronomical archive. Topics that could be considered include what, initially, would constitute appropriate datasets for archiving; proposals to ensure the broadest acceptance of archiving plans; the identification of costs and funding sources for archiving; community comments on the archive designs; integrating ground-based archives with NASA's Astrophysical Data System and Planetary Data System; interagency and international collaboration; and establishment of a national archive center. It is important that the astronomical community determine the relative priorities between archiving particular datasets and supporting new observations.

  • The committee endorses NASA's goal of archiving data from all space-based telescopes and recommends that a complementary and compatible archive of selected data from ground-based telescopes be initiated by the mid-1990s.

The archiving initiative for ground- and space-based astronomy should have the following long-term goals: all new major observatories, both public and private, should incorporate an appropriate level of archiving in their design and in their standard operations; most public and private observatory surveys should be archived; and observers should obtain their raw data, whenever possible, in the archive format.

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