WP5: Data Digitization (Research and technological development)


In various observatories, large numbers of photographic plates are available, which have not been analyzed by modern computer techniques. WP 5 Data Digitization aims at identifying and obtaining appropriate plates, digitizing these plates, and extracting or gathering the required astrometric data.

Description of work

ROB with the help of the Federal Science Policy Office has created a facility for providing digital access to the historic-scientific information contained in photographic archives. This in close collaboration with the experts in digitizing astronomical plates at the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC (USNO), the experts in aerial photography at the National Geographic Institute (NGI) and AGFA-Gevaert a world-leader in photographic matters. To extend the already acquired know-how, hardware and software for digitizing the information contained in the photographic images and to apply it taking into accounts the specific characteristics of the photo-graphic image and the needs of the (foreseen) applications. They staff of the ROB and of the IMCCE has developed some parts of the necessary software for the exploitation of the future acquired data in the frame of this project. ROB foresee in the frame of this project to convert the associated metadata into a digital form and making the results public and directly usable for scientific research through the modern techniques of the information society. This applies in particular to four categories of digital plates:

Task 5.1: Digitization Mars plates

A number of plates containing observations of Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars on a star background are available from a collection of the USNO and several plates from ROB.The collection of these plates does already exist and has been stored at ROB for the purpose of this project research.

Task 5.2: Digitization Saturn plates

Similarly the plates of the moons of Saturn will be analyzed in the same way as those of Mars, accounting for the particular case of Saturn instead of Mars. The collection of these plates does already exist and has been stored at ROB for the purpose of this project research.

Task 5.3: Identification of new plates

In addition to the plates that are already identified, other plates are existing everywhere in observatories observing the planets in the past. The consortium will identify these observatories (some of them are already known by the partners of the E.S.Pa.C.E. consortium), contact them and carry the plates for future digitization. These plates will then be digitized at the ROB.

Task 5.4: Digitization Relevant plates

After having scanned all the proposed plates, the digitized results will be available for the E.S.Pa.C.E. consortium and will be put on the consortium website