This Legacy journal article was published in Volume 4, February 1994, and has not been updated since publication. Please use the search facility above to find regularly-updated information about this topic elsewhere on the HEASARC site.

Once Upon a Time in the Basement....

Laura A. Whitlock


The large room in the basement of Building 2 at Goddard Space Flight Center had been used for the storage of 9 track data tape reels from Code 660 (Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics) and Code 690 (Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics) missions for many years. Then it was scheduled to become the XTE Guest Observer Facility, so the tapes had to go. Unfortunately, there was no equally-sized area for them to go to and so it was decided that the data would be transferred to a smaller storage media (such as 8mm and 4mm cassettes). By doing this, three goals would be accomplished: 1) a copy of the data would be available for our immediate access and analysis; 2) a copy of the data bases would be at hand to structure and reformat for transfer to a permanent CDROM archive; and 3) the ~2500 tapes belonging to Code 660/HEASARC would be transferred to a total tape volume that would fit in a file cabinet.

Based on a program to transfer an exact image copy from tape to tape (acquired from SST-10 at Los Alamos National Laboratory), a procedure was developed to perform a verified transfer of the data from 9 track reel to 8mm(4mm), followed by a second copy to 4mm (8mm). The copying has been done on the LHEAVX cluster and is now ~95% complete, with ~40 Gigabytes of data having been successfully copied. The 'rescued' data sets and a brief description about what each contains is given below.

After the copying is completed, the data sets can be transferred to CDROM, along with copies of the software which uses the data set and any related documentation. (I am still in need of bitmaps, dataset descriptions, etc. of the OSO 8 RATE, PHA, and ORBIT data bases. If anyone out there can provide me with any information, I would be grateful.) This transformation will make the data much more reliable as an archive. A reformatting of the databases into FITS also will be done for the 'useful' data sets, as prioritized by the HUG and user community. These FITS databases then will be put on-line at the HEASARC. In part, this article is a request for input from the user community about the scientific value of each data set. If the reader has particularly strong feelings about wanting a given data set to be put higher or lower in the queue for FITSifying, please send your comments to


Mr. Donald Salazar of Los Alamos National Laboratory must be acknowledged for his invaluable help in getting the copying program up and running on the LHEAVX system and the expertise he provided when questions arose.

Hard time in the "tape copying chair" was put in by Ms. Pat Tyler, Ms. Karen Smale, Mr. Orin Day, and Ms. Gail Rohrbach. It was all much appreciated. Kudos should also go to the system managers for dealing with the many hardware problems that arose during this long, hard effort; namely, Mr. Michael Wilson, Mr. Phil Newman, and Mr. Ted Ying.

Also, a special thank-you goes to Dr. Jean Swank for her patience in answering my many questions about the science-loss implications of each data set. Her endless supply of detailed knowledge was invaluable to this effort.

Additionally, I would like to thank Drs. Jean Swank and Frank Marshall for providing me with extensive documentation on the various HEAO 1 A-2 data sets, and Drs. Steve Holt and Louis Kaluzienski for information concerning the Ariel 5 data.

The "rescued" data sets and a brief description about what each contains is given in Figure 1.

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