skip to content

HEASARC support for unencypted FTP access will be ending possibly as early as July 31, 2019. Please see this notice for details.

XMM-Newton Guest Observer Facility


The Hera Interface

After logging into Web Hera, the interface will launch in your web browser. The interface when first called is shown in Figure 1. There are three different sections or windows. The User Account Window, Tool Parameter Window, and Command Window may be resized relative to each other by clicking and dragging their horizontal borders. A window containing a list of available tools may be generated on the left hand side of the Tool Parameter Window by clicking on "Tool List". Tools are grouped by subheadings of Ftools and mission-specificity.

Files may be uploaded to your Hera account, but directories cannot.

Figure 1: The Hera interface when it is first called.

The Hera interface with various user files and directories, with windows and utilities indicated, is in Figure 2. The user interface buttons, seen by hovering over the file icon to the left of the file name, provide ways to view a table or header, download, rename, and delete the file.

It is likely that the first thing you will want to do is uncompress the data in your ODF directory. To unzip a file, highlight it, hover over the file icon, and select the unzip option. Note that multiple files can be selected at once by highlighting with the shift key (for a continuous block of files) and the control key (for particular files).

To use the Parameter Window, either toggle on the Tool Window and select a task, or type in the name of the task and click "Get". The task's parameters will be listed in the Parameter Window and you can edit them as needed. To run a task, just click on the "Run (task name)" button at the top or bottom of the Parameter Window. If you are running a task that tends to take a long time, you can send it to run in the background by using the "Run (task name) without wait" button. Hera will send you email when it is done. While it is running, you can continue to work in the Hera session. There is no limit to how many tasks may run with this option at any given time. Further, as with locally-run SAS, the output from tasks will be placed in the directory in which that task was called, so running "without wait" can significantly increase efficiency.

Figure 2: The Hera interface with various user files and directories. The different window sections and feedback are labeled in green and user interaction buttons are labeled in red.

The Command Window may be used in a way that is similar to running command-line SAS on your local machine: just enter the task name and any parameters you need. To invoke the "nowait" option as with the Parameter Window, simply append the "-nowait" flag to your task call.

The Command Window can also be used to navigate your account and get feedback with common linux-like commands. Some example commands and Hera's responses are shown in the Command Window in Figure 2. Note that the current working directory as shown with a call to pwd in the Command Window is the same as that shown by the Directory Tree at the top of the Hera interface, and when calling env, only the SAS-specific environment settings are listed.

At present, the following commands are recognized:

   cd <directory path>
   del <filename>
   mkdir <directory>
   rename <old filename> <new filename>
   rm <filename>
   setenv <environment variable> <value>
   unset <environment variable> 
   unset all
So, for instance, if you wanted to reset the environmental variable SAS_ODF to its default setting, you would enter
   unset SAS_ODF 

Similarly, you can reset all SAS environmental variables to their defaults with unset all.

Whether using the Command Window or Parameter Window, feedback such as server communications, warnings, and errors will be displayed in the Command Window, so long as the tasks are running without the "nowait" flag. If running with "nowait", feedback is included in the email notification that is sent upon completion.

Please note that due to security concerns, plots and images cannot be displayed on the Hera servers. Users must download event files, light curves, images, etc. to their own machines in order to view them.

If you have any questions concerning XMM-Newton send e-mail to

This file was last modified on Tuesday, 19-Nov-2013 17:08:40 EST
Curator:Michael Arida (ADNET);

NASA Astrophysics

  • FAQ/Comments/Feedback
  • Education Resources
  • Download Adobe Acrobat
  • A service of the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/ GSFC

    XMM-Newton Project Scientist: Dr. Steve Snowden

    Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman

    Privacy Policy and Important Notices.