Enabling Scientific Research using an Interdisciplinary Virtual Observatory: The Virtual Solar-Terrestrial Observatory Example

Deborah L. McGuinness, Peter Fox, Luca Cinquini, Patrick West, Jose Garcia, James L. Benedict, Don Middleton


Our work is aimed at enabling a new style of virtual, distributed scientific research. We have designed, built, and deployed an interdisciplinary virtual observatory—an online service providing access to what appears to be an integrated collection of scientific data. The Virtual Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (VSTO) is a production semantic web data framework providing access to observational data sets from fields spanning upper atmospheric terrestrial physics to solar physics. The observatory allows virtual access to a highly distributed and heterogeneous set of data that appears as if all resources are organized, stored, and retrieved or used in a common way. The end-user community includes scientists, students, and data providers. We will introduce interdisciplinary virtual observatories and their potential impact by describing our experiences with VSTO. We will also highlight some benefits of the embedded semantic web technology and also provide evaluation results after the first year of use.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v29i1.2087

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