AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 87. Ground-Based Observatories and Techniques
Display, Friday, January 14, 2000, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[87.05] Using XML and Java for Astronomical Instrument Control

L. Koons (AppNet, Inc.), T. Ames (NASA/GSFC), R. Evans (U. of Chicago, Yerkes Observatory), C. Warsaw, K. Sall (AppNet)

Traditionally, instrument command and control systems have been highly specialized, consisting mostly of custom code that is difficult to develop, maintain, and extend. Such solutions are initially very costly and are inflexible to subsequent engineering change requests. Instrument description is too tightly coupled with details of implementation.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and AppNet, Inc. are developing a very general and highly extensible framework that applies to virtually any kind of instrument that can be controlled by a computer (e.g., telescopes, microscopes and printers). A key aspect of the object-oriented architecture, implemented in Java, involves software that is driven by an instrument description. The Astronomical Instrument Markup Language (AIML) is a domain-specific implementation of the more generalized Instrument Markup Language (IML). The software architecture combines the platform-independent processing capabilities of Java with the vendor-independent data description syntax of Extensible Markup Language (XML), a human-readable and machine-understandable way to describe structured data. IML is used to describe command sets (including parameters, datatypes, and constraints) and their associated formats, telemetry, and communication mechanisms. The software uses this description to present graphical user interfaces to control and monitor the instrument. Recent efforts have extended to command procedures (scripting) and representation of data pipeline inputs, outputs, and connections. Near future efforts are likely to include an XML description of data visualizations, as well as the potential use of XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language) to permit astronomers to customize the user interface on several levels: per user, instrument, subsystem, or observatory-wide.

Our initial prototyping effort was targeted for HAWC (High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera), a first-light instrument of SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). A production-level application of this technology is for one of the three candidate detectors of SPIRE (Spectral and Photometric Imaging REceiver), a focal plane instrument proposed for the European Space Agency's Far Infrared Space Telescope. The detectors are being developed by the Infrared Astrophysics Branch of NASA/GSFC.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://pioneer.gsfc.nasa.gov/public/irc/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Lisa.Koons@AppNet.com

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