Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need an archive account to retrieve data?
If you are retrieving only public data, no!
Wherever you are prompted for an archive username and password, use anonymous as the username and your email address as the password.
If you use the STAGE retrieval option without an account, you can use anonymous ftp to get to your data at archive.stsci.edu If you'd like an account, you can get one here.
- Why can't I log into archive.stsci.edu as guest?
The archive guest account has been discontinued. You can install StarView on your machine. You can also use the Web form. If neither of these approaches is sufficient to meet your needs, please let us know. When retrieving data from the STAGE, you can login using your archive username and password. If you used the anonymous method, you can use either your username and password or anonymous ftp.
- I forgot my password
Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. Go to the account maintenance page and have your email re-sent to you. If you don't get an email shortly, just call the Archive Hotseat and we'll reset it for you.
- I need to change my contact information and/or password.
You can update your account information, have the password re-sent and change your password here .
- How can I retrieve HST data?
For public data, you can use the username anonymous and your email address as the password.
If you will be retrieving proprietary data, you will need to register for a retrieval account.. PIs need a special authorization attached to their retrieval accounts which allows them to retrieve proprietary data from their own proposals; see this answer for details. You can retrieve public data using one of the following options:
The data can be retrieved either to the staging disk using the STAGE option or directly to your own site using the FTP and SFTP options. All options are available via StarView or the HST Archive Searches on the Web.
Also see the list of searches under the Search and Retrieval menu on the left of the HST main page
If you use the STAGE retrieval option, DADS will retrieve the data to the staging disk of the host machine listed in your retrieval completion message. If you used your personal archive username and password, you will need to log on using them. If you used anonymous, use anonymous ftp.
If you use the FTP or SFTP retrieval options, you will need to specify the machine address, login, password and directory where you wish the data to be retrieved.
DADS will ftp the data directly to a directory on your computer. (Note that we protect your destination information when it is transferred to us with the same kind of secure-web mechanism that is used by commercial sites conducting online commerce.)
If internet transfers are not feasible, both public and authorized proprietary data can also be retrieved to hard media-- just use the CD-ROM or DVD retrieval options. We will ship it to the address given in your account registration.
- How much data can I get?
There is no hard limit. The HST Web-based search form has a default limit of 100 rows, thus limiting the number of observations in a single request to that default. However this limit can be changed and other search means can be employed to create larger requests. After you've submitted a large data request, its completion may be constrained by the reprocessing necessary allow the Archive to deliver WFPC2, NICMOS, STIS, and ACS data. To learn more about the issues affecting large requests and ways of mitigating them, visit the Large Searches and Requests page http://archive.stsci.edu/hst/bigsearch_request.html .
- I am the PI on proposal xxxx. Can I use StarView or the Web to retrieve my data?
We're happy to tell you that you can! You can have your retrieval account set up so that you will be able to retrieve proprietary data from those proposals directly to a directory on your home machine.
Just send an email to email@example.com. Please note the proposal ids, and designate any others who you believe should have access to the data.
You can now retrieve proprietary data to the Archive Staging area using your authorized archive account. You can also designate your co-investigators for this privilege.
- I am the PI on proposal xxxx. Why can't I retrieve the data?
You can, but you'll need to let us know you want it. Currently, PIs do not receive automatic electronic access to their data. (This is a technical limitation, not a policy.) If you are the PI and want electronic access to your proposal, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know the proposal ID and your archive username. We will attach the proper access privileges to your account to allow you to retrieve this data electronically.
You can also authorize co-investigators and co-workers to have electronic access as well. Just tell us the proposal ID and the names and archive usernames of those to whom you wish to grant access. (If they don't have accounts, or you're not sure if they do, then let us know their email addresses to we can help them set up accounts for access.)
Authorization may be set up only on a per-proposal basis; we cannot restrict access to certain data within the proposal.
- How do I get permission to retrieve proprietary data and documents?
We ask that the PI send us an email (to email@example.com). In that email, note the proposal ids, and designate any others who you believe should have access to the data.
Once an individual is authorized for a particular proposal, they have access to all proprietary data in that proposal only.
You now can use the STAGE retrieval option to retrieve proprietary data. Be sure to use your archive username and password!
If while retrieving your data you get a message saying that the data are still proprietary, one of the following has happened:
- You are trying to retrieve the data to the Archive Host staging disk using the anonymous archive username . Use your archive username and password to retrieve the data instead.
- We made a mistake and didn't properly authorize your account. This may be particularly true if you (for some reason) have more than one archive account.
- The data are under restriction, which means that they were found to duplicate planned or existing proprietary observations, and an access restriction has been placed on them until the data with which it conflicts is released.
- I do not want the data I just requested. Can you kill this request?
Yes we can! Just contact us promptly, and we'll delete it.
- How long should a retrieval take?
The retrieval time depends on a variety of factors:
- the type of data in the request. Some instruments take longer to process than others
- the size of the request- the larger the request the longer it takes, both to move the request up the queue , and to retrieve the data.
- the number of requests in the system at the time.
- the destination of the request. The internet connections between STScI and some sites, especially those overseas, is sometimes a significant source of delay.
If everything is running smoothly, expect a median turn around time of under a couple hours. The average and median running times calculated from recent requests can be found on the archive status page . If it takes more than one day, and you don't think any of the factors listed above are playing a significant role, please contact us.
- When I submit a request, it fails immediately, telling me my host password contains forbidden characters...
There are 5 characters that are forbidden:
( ) * " /
In order to successfully submit a request, you will need to change you password to something not containing those characters. We hope to fix this eventually, as it can be a significant inconvenience.
- I submitted a retrieval, but never got a notice that my request was submitted and queued...
Check to see if your email is the same as the one listed in the account . The notification may be going to another address. DADS responds fairly promptly. If the system is down for an installation, we may have turned off request processing. Check the system status .
If it was a very large number of datasets, and you are seeing a blank screen after submitting, please contact us. It may be the submission timed out.
- I tried retrieving some data, but the staging disk is full...
Fortunately, this doesn't happen as often as it used to, since we installed a bigger staging disk on the Archive host machines. (You can check its capacity to be on the safe side.) However, if it does, you can either contact the Hotseat and we'll see if we can do anything to make room (usually by contacting other users and asking them if we can delete their data), or by resubmitting the request and having the data delivered directly to a directory on your home machine (FTP or SFTP options), rather than onto the staging disk.
- My request failed. Now what do I do?
If it failed for a reason you can identify go ahead and resubmit the request with the necessary alterations.
We can resubmit failed requests for users, once we've corrected the problem.
If the failure occurred for a reason that isn't clear, contact the Archive hotseat with a description of the failure and we will investigate.
- What does this error message mean?
Send a copy of it to the Archive hotseat. If the error message isn't clear, we need to change it!
- How can I find out how my retrieval is doing?
Via the web, you can check the status using a simple tool at the archive status page and enter your request id. A direct link to the request status is part of the mail message you receive confirming acceptance of your request.
- What does this state mean for my request on the Request Status page?
Committed and Waiting: Your request has been accepted and is waiting for resources to become available.
Committed and Queued: We use this status for large single requests. The system most likely can still handle it, but it is in a state that allows operations to feed it into the system so as not to overwhelm resources.
Running: Your request is queued and being processed.
Stopped by operator: For any number of reasons, your request has been manually stopped. Often, this is used to reallocate resources. It will be resumed.
Moved to Trouble: Your request hit some sort of snag that requires operator intervention before it can be continued. It could be an OTFR problem that needs to be repaired on the fly. It could be that the ftp process hung. If data has already begun to transfer, check to see you haven't run out of diskspace. If there appear to be partial files, often moving the data into another directory can allow us to proceed.
Waiting for Operator: For hard media requests, the data has been written to the media and is awaiting labelling and shipment.
Killed: Your request ran into some fatal errors. We will attempt to resubmit the request. If some data has been transferred, please remove it from the destination directory so we won't run into overwrite protection problems. If we can't resolve the errors, the request will be terminated and you will receive an email stating such. Please contact us.
Unknown: This can be caused by any number of things. Most likely, it will be resolved. If your request is terminated, you will receive a notification.
- I submitted a request two days ago, and it hasn't finished yet.
Check to make sure DADS isn't having a scheduled downtime.
The median retrieval turnaround time is under a couple hours, so if your request has taken more than a day without you getting a completion message, contact the Archive Hotseat and ask about your request. It is possible that a request will be deliberately put on hold in the system. We will usually contact you when that happens, but sometimes we may not be able to.
DADS retrieval times are dependent on the size of your request, the type of data, the destination you specified and the number of requests in the system. It has been our experience that users outside the United States sometimes experience longer retrieval times.
- I retrieved some data and got a notice that it was ready. Where is it?
If you selected the STAGE option in StarView or on the Web then the data was retrieved to the staging disk, archive.stsci.edu
Use your archive username and password (or, if anonymous was used, anonymous as the username, and your email as the password) to FTP in to get your data. Cd to /stage/your username/request id as listed in the email response.
If you selected FTP or SFTP as the media option, then the data will have gone to the node name and directory you gave the request as the destination directory.
- I know I have an account on archive.stsci.edu to search, but I can not log into it any more...
The Archive guest account was discontinued some time ago. Users should either:
- Install StarView at their home sites
- Use the Web searches for searching the catalog and retrieving data
When retrieving data from a completed request, use your archive username and password to ftp in to retrieve the data, or anonymous ftp if you used the anonymous request method. Sftp will not work.
- Why can't I use sftp to retrieve my data from archive.stsci.edu?
SFTP will not work with the server software. You need to use a different ftp client. A list of clients that have been tested and verified are listed at here.
- Why can't I see my request directory on archive.stsci.edu?
When retrieving data using the STAGE retrieval option, please login using your archive username and password. Anonymous ftp only allows you to see anonymously requested data.
- I don't need the whole dataset. How do I retrieve just one file extension?
In Starview, select the Show Overrides checkbox on the Retrieval options popup. There is a space there for a list of the extensions you wish to retrieve.
On the Web, use the scrollbox near the bottom of the retrieval options page to select the extensions you want or input a comma separated list into the space provided nearby.
- How do I get the latest FOS calibrated data?
Improved calibrations for FOS data are available using STSDAS software available from the www.stecf.org web site. Additional FOS information is also available from this site.
- I need to recalibrate some data. Can I retrieve the calibration files?
Yes. In Starview, for each instrument, there is a calibration screen that will show you what files the dataset was calibrated with, and which files you should use if you are recalibrating. Each of these screens has special buttons to mark the used or recommended calibration files for retrieval.
If you already have the names of the files you want, then you can retrieve them directly. Go directly into the Retrieval screen through the Commands menu and use the "Add dataset by name" or "Add datasets from file" options. In the "File Options" screen, just press the "Calibrated" (or "OTFR" for ACS, NICMOS, STIS or WFPC2) button. That will ensure you get the right files.
Via the Web, select the appropriate choice from the Retrieval Options page: "Best Reference" or "Used Reference" files, which retrieve the same files under OTFR.
To search for specific calibration files, you will need to know the names of the files and search for and retrieve them using the Dataset List Search page.
- How do I find observations of an object by name?
You can try entering this in the "Target name" field of a Starview search screen, but the target names in our database are chosen by the proposer, so they might be a little (or a lot) different than you might guess.
The best way to search for a specific (fixed) target is to use the "Get Coordinates"/Resolve button. Press this button and a window will pop up asking you for a target name. When you enter a target name and search, it will resolve the target names into RA and Dec through SIMBAD or NED.
It will then enter the target's RA and Dec on the StarView screen, along with a 10-arcminute search radius (which you can change, if you want). (If you do a lot of extragalactic work, you can choose the NED resolver instead of SIMBAD.)
On the Web, the same options are used, and unless Do Not Resolve is selected, target coordinates are retrieved at the start of the search.
For solar-system targets, you may still need to search by target name. In this case, it would be wise to wildcard the target name. For example, to search for observations of Jupiter, enter *JUP* into the target name field. Also, you can constrain your search to solar-system proposals by entering Solar System* in the "Description" field, if there is one on the screen. (Note the wildcard!)
- How do I find all the observations for a class of objects (like Seyferts?)
There is an an up-to-date list of target descriptions currently in the HST Archive.
- Can I use StarView or the Web to cross-correlate a list of my targets?
Both StarView and the web offer cross correlation.
There are instructions on how to use the StarView cross correlation in the online StarView help documentation.
Various cross correlation options are also available on the web at http://archive.stsci.edu/searches.html. There are help texts associated with them.
- How can I see more than 100 results?
The HST Web-based search form has a default limit of 100 rows, but this can be increased to 1500 using the Maximum Records field on the main search page. Even larger searches can be performed using HTTP GET requests. To learn more about how to do this, the issues affecting searches and large requests and ways of mitigating them, visit the Large Searches and Requests page http://archive.stsci.edu/hst/bigsearch_request.html .