This Legacy journal article was published in Volume 3, May 1993, 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.


N. E. White


Japan's fourth X-ray astronomy mission, Astro-D, was successfully launched on February 20, 1993, at 11:00 JST (02:00 UT) from Kagoshima Space Center. After launch, the satellite was renamed ASCA (the Japanese characters mean "flying bird" and it is also an acronym for "Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics"). ASCA is a cooperative venture between NASA and Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). The NASA contribution includes four conical grazing incidence thin-foil mirror assemblies, two charge coupled devices (ccds) and data analysis software. In return for its contribution, the US will receive 15% of the observing time, with an additional 25% for collaborative US/Japan investigations. The first eight months of the mission is reserved for instrument checkout and performance verification. First light was on 1993 March 17 when the X-ray binary EXO0748-676 was observed. The instrument checkout has gone extremely well, with all detectors performing as expected. The initial results have shown spectacular line emission features. The first ASCA result, the detection of SN1983J, was already published in IAU circular number 5753. The ASCA Guest Observer Facility is colocated with the HEASARC, and there is a strong interaction between the two groups.

The HEASARC continues to strongly promote the FITS standard for data distribution and analysis. The FITSIO library writen by Bill Pence has proved extremely popular. The latest package called FTOOLS builds on the FITSIO library and provides both utilities to manipulate FITS files, as well as tools for the analysis of ASCA data. This isssue of Legacy updates the status of FITSIO and FTOOLS. It also describes a new FITS standard for describing timing data.

The BBXRT event data is now available, and this completes the delivery of these data to the HEASARC. A new plasma emission code is described, which is available as a model in the latest version of XSPEC (v 8.3). The HEASARC has established a new centralized anonymous ftp account, available through the machine. Through this account, popular archival data can be accessed from all the missions for which the HEASARC is responsible. The HEASARC has recently acquired 300 gigabytes of rewritable optical disk jukeboxes which will be mounted to the anonymous ftp. This will provide immediate accessbility to the most popular ROSAT, Compton (GRO), HEAO 1 and 2, EXOSAT and other archival data. The HEASARC On-line Service (BROWSE) will be moved in July this year from NDADS to the legacy machine. From that time on, NDADS will be used purely as a mass data store. More details will appear in the next issue of Legacy.

Editors: Karen M. Smale

Nick White

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