FIGURE 2-2 New science paradigm for astronomy.
SOURCE: Space Telescope Science Institute
This was a concern, at least until a few years ago, because of how we used to work with the data. As a researcher with the Space Telescope Science Institute, I can use a few protocols to access the very different data centers, but every time I interface with a different data center, I have to learn the jargon—the language of that data center. I have to learn all the idiosyncrasies of the data in this particular data center. After I learn all this, my only option is to download the data to my local machine and spend a long time filtering and analyzing them. In astronomy this limits us to small observations of very narrowly selected samples.
In 2001, scientists realized that this was not a good model, so the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the National Virtual Observatory for Astronomy. The goal was to lower the barrier for access to all the different data centers so that a scientist did not have to worry about the complexities behind the data centers. They just had to worry about how to get data and do their science. The National Virtual Observatory was established in 2001, and for several years it was in the development phase. It moved into the operational phase with funding from NSF and NASA in 2010. By this time it was called the Virtual Astronomical Observatory.
At the same time these developments were taking place in the United States, people across the planet were building their own standards, their own protocols, and their own data centers. At some point it became evident that we could not ignore what was happening around