Previous Contents Next
SDS Under Martin Elvis
Martin Elvis (Figure
46), who has led the Science Data Systems group since the AXAF
science center came into existence in the early 1990s, has left
the CXC to return to full time research as a member of SAO’s
High Energy Astrophysics Division. The SDS group is responsible
for the scientific integrity of the Chandra data and data analysis software, and
works closely with Pepi Fabbiano’s Data Systems division which
carries out the actual software development and pipeline and
archive opera tions.
Martin brought to the Chandra team extensive experience in X-ray data analysis dating back to his days on the British Ariel 5 satellite team in the 1970s, when he made some of the first X-ray studies of Seyfert galaxies. Leading a group of scientists from SAO and MIT, Martin’s vision for the SDS effort was to build a new generation of analysis tools which would be extensible, user-friendly and interoperable with other systems. Among the key ideas were multidimensionality - a design that would handle 1D, 2D and higher-dimensional data in the same way - and a non-axis-specific approach - tools that would apply the same algorithm to spectral, spatial, temporal and other axes. Another early idea was to build on the SAO team’s experience with the IRAF-based PROS filtering and parameter interface, but make the individual tasks accessible from the operating system command line, making the system more open - an approach pursued at the same time by our colleagues at Goddard who were developing FTOOLS. SDS also build on MIT’s intimate knowledge of the instruments and expertise with complex interactive data analysis software to create scientifically robust data products and an interactive environment.
The development of these ideas through preliminary and critical design reviews and interaction with the Data Systems division in the years before Chandra launch led to the systems we know today as CIAO and Standard Data Processing. During these years, Martin also led an active research group of postdocs and graduate students advancing multiwavelength studies of AGN.
After 11 years as one of Martin’s SDS staff I took over leadership of the group in late 2004, and would like to express my appreciation of his stewardship during the key formative years of Chandra and CIAO.
- Jonathan McDowell