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Indiana University
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Abstract Reference: 27000
Identifier: P4.20
Presentation: Poster presentation
Key Theme: 4 Long-term Management of Data Archives

SpArc: Preservation of 20 years of Spectrographic Data (lightning talk)

Authors:
Young Michael D., Pilachowski Catherine A., Brokaw Dennis H., Gopu Arvind A.

From 1975 to 1995 the Fourier Transform Spectrograph (FTS) mounted on the Kitt Peak Mayall 4m telescope collected spectra in the regime from 0.9 to 5 microns.  Nearly 15,000 infrared spectra of ~800 distinct astronomical objects were recorded and more than 120 papers were published as a result. The data in this archive represents a valuable collection of historical observations, useful for long-term variability studies, samples of precursor objects, or other instances where the value of the data is only apparent in hindsight. However the FTS observations were stored on obsolete and inaccessible 9-track magnetic tape until a preservation effort in the late 1990's transferred the data to an ASCII card image format.  With the goal of further improving accessibility these observations were recently converted to the standard FITS format, with the original observational metadata preserved. The Spectra Archive (SpArc) portal was created to disseminate this repository to the wider scientific community. SpArc is a freely accessible, flexible and modern interface to the archival data, which requires no registration and the underlying software is open-sourced. In this presentation we will discuss the motivations, methodologies and results of SpArc, which can serve as a template for the successful preservation of valuable legacy astronomical data that lies forgotten in similar caches at other institutions.