Common NICER Error Messages and How to Fix Them

Overview

This analysis thread discusses NICER error messages that may appear when processing data.

Read this thread if you want to: Understand and correct common NICER error conditions

Last update: 2021-12-02

Introduction

When working with NICER analysis, there are occassions where error messages may appear. This may be especially true when the scientist is new to NICER analysis. This analysis thread discusses common NICER error conditions and how to correct them.

"failed to uncompress file into memory" error

An error of this form appears. Possible errors Dumping CFITSIO error stack: -------------------------------------------------- failed to uncompress file into memory (compress_open) failed to find or open the following file: (ffopen) (filename).evt.gz --------------------------------------------------

This error message appears during many common analysis tasks, such as calibration (nicerpi) or filter file generation (niprefilter2) when running the "nicerl2" task.

This error indicates that a gzipped file is too large to process. CFITSIO will automatically attempt to open a gzipped file by uncompressing it in memory. If the fully uncompressed file will not fit in memory, this error is reported.

Typically, this situation can be solved by gunzipping all gzip-compressed event files before running NICER analysis tasks.

"nicerpi1" failure: old software

An error of this form appears. ERROR: this task is not capable of handling data of the following type: GAINMETH=FT_OFF+MPU(PULSE_GRID)+MPUPIN(MPU_A_TEMP(POLY),MPU_UNDER_COUNT(DARK_MV),MV_TREND)+ECORR(UNDER_GAIN) CHANTYPE=PI FITSIO status = 342: group member not found CFITSIO ERROR MEMBER_NOT_FOUND: group member not found Task nicerpi1 1.16 terminating with status 342 ERROR: nicerpi1 failed at /home/ubuntu64/software/heasoft-6.24/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.27/bin/nicerpi line 280. Task nicerpi 1.16 terminating with status -1

This error message appears during the calibration process when the task "nicerpi1" is trying to read a gain calibration file. nicerpi1 is typically run when the analyst uses the "nicerl2" task. The error message or GAINMETH may not be exactly the same, but all will result in a "nicerpi1 failed" error message.

This error means that the NICERDAS software is out of date. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more information about updating software.

"nicerarf" failure: old CALDB

An error of this form appears. nicerarf 1.5 -------------------------------------------------------- FPM List: launch ERROR: CALDB VIGNET file query returned no results at /software/lheasoft/develop/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.12/bin/nicerarf line 518. Task nicerarf 1.5 terminating with status -1

This error message appears during the process of using the nicerarf task to generate an ARF response file.

This error means that the NICER Calibration Database (CALDB) is out of date. CALDB release xti20210707 or later is required to use the response generator tasks. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more information about updating software.

nicerl2 / prefilter failure (satellite has re-entered)

An error of this form appears. Running prefilter... error: satellite has re-entered at 2017/09/24 01:42:58.000000 [altitude < 100.000000 km] ERROR: Operation not permitted Task v4.6 PREFILTER v4.6 terminating with status 1 error: satellite has re-entered at 2017/09/24 01:42:58.000000 [altitude < 100.000000 km] ERROR: prefilter failed at /Software/HEASoft/6.29/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.17/bin/niprefilter line 412.

This error message appears during the process of running nicerl2 or niprefilter to generate a filter file.

This error occurs due to a bug in HEASoft 6.29, and is fixed in patch release 6.29a, which was released on July 30, 2021. You will need to upgrade your software to HEASoft 6.29a or later. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more information about updating software.

nicerl2 / prefilter warning (unable to get TELESCOP keyword)

An warning of this form appears. Running prefilter... monitor: 2014-01-01T00:00:00 => mjd[utc]=56658.000000000000 str=14/01/01 00:00:00.000000 warning: unable to get TELESCOP keyword; will use LEAPS

This warning message appears during the process of running nicerl2 or niprefilter to generate a filter file.

This warning is normal, and no action is needed to respond to it.

nifpmsel error (exposure calculation failed)

An error of this form appears. ERROR: exposure calculation ... failed at /Software/HEASoft/6.29/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.17/bin/nifpmsel line xxx. Dumping CFITSIO error stack: -------------------------------------------------- Input GTI must be time-ordered for GTIOVERLAP -------------------------------------------------- CFITSIO error stack dump complete. Task nifpmsel 1.1 terminating with status -1 ERROR: task nifpmsel failed at /Software/HEASoft/6.29/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.17/bin/nicerl2 line xxx.

This error message appears during the process of running nicerl2 or nifpmsel to generate cleaned events.

This error occurs due to a bug in HEASoft 6.29 (as well as patch release 6.29a), and is fixed in forthcoming patch release. You will need to upgrade your software to HEASoft 6.29b or later. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more information about updating software.

niextract-events (input file list was empty)

An error of this form appears. ERROR: input file list was empty

This error message appears when running niextract-events on an event file that is empty. Here, "empty" means the event file exists, but contains no events in the table, and the GTI is empty. This is a valid event list, and should not generate an error message.

This error occurs due to a bug in HEASoft 6.29 (as well as patch release 6.29a), and is fixed in forthcoming patch release. You will need to upgrade your software to HEASoft 6.29b or later. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more information about updating software.

nicerarf errors when using barycentered event file

An error of one of these forms appears fsumrows1.0 : Error Status Returned : 307 fsumrows1.0 : bad first row number fsumrows1.0 : ***** FITSIO Error Stack Dump ***** Attempt to read past end of table: Table has 0 rows with 1 elements per row; Tried to read 1 elements starting at row 1, element 1. fsumrows1.0 : ...Trouble transfering data in row 1 ERROR: fsumrows failed at .../nivigsum line 195. Task nivigsum 1.0 terminating with status -1 ERROR: nivignsum failed at .../nicerarf line 791. or ERROR: VIGNET*FPMSEL failed at nivigsum line XXX. Dumping CFITSIO error stack: -------------------------------------------------- Array not large enough to hold at least one row of data. -------------------------------------------------- CFITSIO error stack dump complete. Task nivigsum 1.2 terminating with status -1 ERROR: nivignsum failed at nicerarf line XXX. Task nicerarf 1.7 terminating with status -1

This error appears when running the task nicerarf. The NICER team has reports of this error occurring when users attempt to run nicerarf with a barycentered event file as input. The basic underlying problem is that barycentered event files and spectra have a different time system from the filter file, which is non-barycentered. This creates time mismatches which nicerarf cannot recover from.

To remedy, use the non-barycentered event file to create spectra to be used with nicerarf.

nicerarf error (TIMEZERO bug)

An error of this form appears ERROR: the FPM Selection file (selfile=...) is affected by a NICER TIMEZERO bug. This bug will prevent accurate response calculation.

This error message appears during the process of running nicerarf to generate an ARF response file.

This error indicates that the event file used for FPM Selection (the "selfile" parameter) contains erroneous FPM Selection data. You will need to ensure your software is upgraded to HEASoft revision 6.29c (or later) and correct the event file before proceeding. Please see the NICER Response Bug analysis thread for more discussion of these issues.

nicerarf error (no exposure)

An error of this form appears ================================================================== nicerarf 1.5 -------------------------------------------------------- FPM List: launch ERROR: CALDB VIGNET file query returned no results at .../nicerarf line 518. Task nicerarf 1.5 terminating with status -1

This error message appears during the process of running nicerarf to generate an ARF response file.

This error may indicate that the user's calibration database (CALDB) is not set up or updated for NICER data. Please see the Settting Up a NICER Analysis Environment analysis thread for more discussion.

This error may also occur if the spectrum file contains no exposure. This may occur if the filtering / screening step removes all data and leaves zero exposure. To check this, one can use the following command:
ftlist spectrum.pha+1 K include=EXPOSURE where spectrum.pha is the name of the spectrum of interest. If EXPOSURE=0, this indicates no exposure was found. (Another symptom of this condition will be the keyword TSTART=0.) The user may need to examine the screening criteria more closely (and potentially loosen them) to obtain more exposure.

Modifications

  • 2021-07-20 - initial draft
  • 2021-07-29 - updates for HeaSoft 6.29 (prefilter)
  • 2021-08-02 - add nifpmsel "Input GTI must be time-ordered"
  • 2021-08-05 - add niextract-events with empty files
  • 2021-08-09 - add fsumrows error
  • 2021-09-01 - add NICER Response Bug issue
  • 2021-12-02 - add another nicerarf failure mode when using barycentered data