Re: The Grand Archive

Bart De Pontieu (BDP@MPEPL)
Thu, 03 Oct 1996 18:00:41 +0100 (CET)

Allen Thomson wrote:

>   Technology seems to have caught up with a notion I've been 
>entertaining for most of a decade, and I'd like to propose that 
>we discuss it here and perhaps make it come true.  It's the 
>"Grand Archive of Orbital Elements." 

I think this is a very good idea and I would also like to offer
my support. 

I think I can set aside some (computer) resources for this 
project here at MPE. Neil and I had already been thinking in the 
direction of providing current OIG-elements with a good Web/email 
interface anyway (as part of our VSOHP efforts), so this 'Grand 
Archive' proposal goes along the same lines.

I personally don't have many old elements on paper, having been forced
to throw away the two-line elements I had received in the 80s when I
moved to Germany 4 years ago. There are some elements scattered through
the 100 Flash issues though. Also, I will contact Hermann Boehnhardt
(Garching, Germany) who has all the satellite-related documents of the
late German observer Horst Koehnke. Hermann has been very helpful in
making Horst's flash period archive available to us in these past few
years (we've added most of them now to the PPAS-database based on 
volunteer typing in work). I would assume Horst has left Hermann a huge
number of two line elements too. Horst was active for a very long time,
from the early 60s until the end of the 80s!

>   So here's what I advocate: one or more institutional sites 
>with some stability volunteer to become cooperating hosts of the 
>Grand Archive.  The sites accept any and all email input of 
>current or historical orbital element sets in a defined set of 
>acceptable formats.  They then process the sets into a common 
>storage format, archive them and provide simple email retrieval 
>based on NORAD catalog number.  

Sounds good to me. Note that for several months now Neil and I have been 
testing an email retrieval system that gets its elements from OIG and
sends fresh elements back promptly. We expect to make this operational in
the upcoming weeks.

Before we start typing in printed versions of NASA's two line elements
from the 70s, I think it would be very useful if someone close to OIG
(or the Russian equivalent) asks whether they would be interested in 
helping us out. We've had some experience in the BWGS with building up an
archive from paper records and the work is very boring and the volunteers
are sometimes only barely persuaded to keep volunteering :-)

I think this discussion needs to become more practical to progress and will
quickly become unsuitable to the general public of SeeSat-L. I would
suggest that those who are interested in working on or reading about this 
project move their discussion to a separate list. I can't create a new
list until Monday (German holidays), but there is an old list at iris01 that 
hasn't been used for some time now (superseded by SeeSat), and that we can 
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