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About the Archived Synthetic Data Initiative

The Archived Synthetic Data Initiative (ASDI) is an effort to enhance science with MAST data.  The goal is to enable discoverability of synthetic observations of astronomical objects, and to enable users to analyze these products alongside real data.


Accelerating computing offers powerful new tools for studying the universe, especially when simulations and synthetic observations can be compared with real data. MAST has collaborated on research and development activities to enhance simulated datasets, called the Archived Synthetic Data Initiative (ASDI). The primary goal of ASDI is to unite community-contributed simulations and synthetic data with MAST data to enhance the ability of any users to ask and answer hard astrophysical questions. The basic concept is that an ASDI contribution begins as a MAST HLSP. Two additional requirements that are being explored are 1) to make the data avaialble in a custom search service for different synthetic data types, and 2) to provide a data simulation service suited to specific missions

Prototype Demo

In 2019, MAST began work developing a prototype ASDI web service. To demonstrate the ASDI concept, we used simulated galaxy halo gas spectra, and enabled simple STIS spectroscopic data simulations. In the first phase, we ingested the files and metadata, which we exposed via a VO TAP service to enable searching for subsets of data products. In the second phase, MAST developed a web service to take the pristine sky synthetic data products, modify them with basic data simulation steps on the server-side, and then return the final products to the user.  Both the TAP and web service prototypes have been decommissioned, but a lot was learned by undergoing this project.

Contribute Synthetic Data

We welcome new contributions from the community to expand our holdings of these models and simulations. We will work with contributors to properly format their synthetic data files and begin the process of ingesting them as a new ASDI Project. An early conclusion of ASDI development was that a logical input to a MAST synthetic data service is the “pristine synthetic sky”, in its simplest form: flux as a function of wavelength and/or position. This serves as the end point of astrophysical simulation steps, and the input to telescope or instrument simulation steps.

Our vision is that MAST synthetic data projects begin as MAST High-Level Science Products, which are products associated with or derived from MAST mission data. MAST provides HLSP contributors with permanent hosting of data files, a web page, and where possible, loading of data products into MAST services, making the data more accessible and discoverable.  The ASDI services could consist of synthetic data search capabilities and one or more data simulation services associated with a particular mission, instrument, or data type. MAST currently hosts a handful of synthetic data HLSPs that will be added to ASDI services in the future.

If you are interested in contributing synthetic data to MAST, get in touch!  We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the HLSP contribution guidelines, and to fill out the HLSP contribution interest form.