The Electronic Geophysical Year: 2007-2008

Working Group on Virtual Observatories

Terms of Reference


The purpose of a Virtual Observatory is to increase efficiency, and enable new science by greatly enhancing access to data, services, and computing resources. A Virtual Observatory is a suite of software applications on a set of computers that allows users to uniformly find, access, and use resources (data, documents, software, processing capability, image products, and services) from distributed product repositories and service providers. A Virtual Observatory may have a single subject (for example, the Virtual Solar Observatory) or several grouped under a theme (the Virtual Solar-Terrestrial Observatory, A Virtual Observatory will typically take the form of an internet portal or web services offering users features among the following.

  • Tools that make it easy to locate and retrieve data from catalogs, archives, and databases worldwide
  • Tools for data analysis, simulation, and visualization
  • Tools to compare observations with results obtained from models, simulations, and theory.
  • Interoperability: services that can be used regardless of the clients computing platform, operating system, and software capabilities
  • Access to data in near real-time, archived data, and historical data.
  • Additional information - documentation, user-guides, reports, publications, news, and so on.

This Working Group focuses on Virtual Observatories (Data Grids, Distributed Data Systems, Virtual Laboratories, etc.) for the management of geophysical and geospace data for all users.


The eGY Virtual Observatory Working Group will

  • Work with the other eGY working groups (best practices, data integration, data rescue, education/outreach and virtual research environments),
  • Participate in workshops, conferences and seminars to promote eGY principles and VO capabilities,
  • Document the existing VO paradigm and implementations broadly across Earth and space sciences and set forward challenges for the future.
  • Encourage the publication of results in appropriate journals and solicit broad public comment.

Current and past activities:

  • Coming