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NOAO Newsletter - Central Computer Services - March 2000 - Number 61

IRAF Update

Doug Tody and Jeannette Barnes

A new IRAF patch release, V2.11.3, was released in December for all supported IRAF platforms. This completes the cycle of V2.11 upgrades begun in the fall of 1999, providing the equivalent up-to-date version of IRAF, including Y2K support, for all supported platforms.

IRAF V2.11.3 includes support for all Sun Sparc systems (SunOS, and Solaris 2.5.1, 2.6, 2.7, Solaris 7), Digital Unix 4.0 (now Compaq Tru64), OpenVMS running on the Alpha chip, PC-IRAF (for FreeBSD 3.3, RedHat Linux 6.1, Slackware Linux 4.0, Solaris 7 for Intel, and SUSE Linux 6.2), HP-UX B.10.20, IRIX 6.5, AIX 4.1, and VAX/VMS. As a reminder, an IRAF V2.11 patch (version V2.11.2 or greater) is required for anyone running IRAF to make IRAF Y2K (Year 2000) compliant. Further information on the Y2K compliance of IRAF is available on our Web page at We are currently planning to drop support for IBM AIX and VAX/VMS after the V2.11 release. A new port to Macintosh Linux is planned for the near future, now that the V2.11 upgrades are completed.

A new release of X11IRAF (including xgterm and imtool) is in preparation and should be released sometime in February 2000. This will update X11IRAF for all supported platforms as we did for the general IRAF release with V2.11.3.

Australia became our fourth IRAF mirror site in early November. The IRAF FTP and Web sites, containing the recent IRAF distributions among other IRAF information, are now mirrored in Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe at the ESO ST/ECF. The mirrors are updated nightly. Check our Web site at for a list of the mirror addresses. We appreciate the hosts of these mirror sites for making IRAF more readily available to our worldwide community.

Our major development projects going into 2000 are the Mosaic pipeline and data reduction support for Gemini. Work on both of these projects is still underway. The Mosaic pipeline includes both general enhancements to the Mosaic data reduction software and a general- purpose pipeline facility. The Gemini work will include new reduction support for IR instruments and multiobject spectrographs, support for adaptive optics (AO) data, and enhancements to the IRAF image structures to store pixel masks and variance information. Early work currently in progress includes support for describing and propagating aperture information for multiobject spectrographs, support for storing pixel masks and variance planes in images, designing a new spectral data format, and an effort to characterize AO data and evaluate the software work required to support AO observations.

A new virtual memory caching package called VMcache has been developed and is now undergoing testing in the Mosaic DHS. VMcache allows images to be cached in memory and efficiently accessed by multiple processes. Use of VMcache on a system that is doing heavy image i/o can reduce paging and significantly improve system performance. Although VMcache is only available now as part of the Mosaic DHS (in the Data Capture Agent), it is a general image caching facility and should be integrated later into the Mosaic pipeline and eventually into IRAF itself.

Frank Valdes, in collaboration with Heath Jones of ESO, has prepared an IRAF package, ESOWFI, based on MSCRED to customize reductions for the ESO Wide-Field Imager. The ESO WFI is a mosaic similar to the NOAO Mosaic Imager. The package is available from the IRAF external package archive. A user's guide is under development.

This quarter Lindsey Davis continued working on the new IRAF astrometry package. The catalog access applications programming interface mentioned in the previous Newsletter has been used to develop a general-purpose astrometric catalog extraction and filtering task. This task can extract lists of astrometric standards for multiple fields from a single catalog or for the same field in multiple catalogs and optionally filter the results, e.g., sort and select any magnitude or a user expression, transform the coordinates from one coordinate system to another, etc. A related task for extracting astrometric fields from standard surveys such as the DSS is nearing completion.

Lindsey used the catalog access applications interface mentioned above to develop a task to search the USNO-2 catalog for guide stars. This task will be interfaced to the NOAO proposal Web form to provide investigators with an automatic guide star finding program since targets and guide stars are required with all Gemini proposals.

For further information about the IRAF project, please see the IRAF Web pages at or send email to The adass.iraf newsgroups (available on USENET or via a moderated mailing list which you can subscribe to by filling out a form on the IRAF Web page) provide timely information on IRAF developments and are available for the discussion of IRAF related issues.

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