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Hera Overview

Once upon a time, scientific data was hard to find and took alot of time to analyze. In astronomy, data was originally recorded on fragile photographic plates at telescopes spread out all over the world. You can imagine how hard it was to transport and share this data! In the late 20th century, most data collection (from both satellites and Earth-based telescopes) became computerized, but it required special software to analyze, and only the astronomers who built the equipment could easily analyze it. Near the turn of the century, however, much of the data and software became standardized and placed into easily accessible computerized archives. Now many more astronomers can look at data originally acquired by satellites they hadn't directly worked on. Today, the data and software are becoming accessible to students.

Hera is an interface to software and data provided by the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Reseach Center at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. The data are from satellites which detect x-rays and gamma rays from objects such as black holes, neutron stars, galaxies, and supernovae. This interface has been adapted for use by students, educators, amateur astronomers and the general public, and allows them to use the same software that astronomers use on the same data sets that astronomers analyze. These data may be used for extensions of classroom lessons, science fair projects, research projects, etc.

These web pages will guide you through using Hera to investigate a scientific problem. First time users should start by reading the introduction section in order to gain necessary background information on the science and the data and software. The installation instructions can then be followed to install Hera on your local computer, if that has not been done for you. Once Hera is installed, the File Utilities section will guide you in accessing the Hera tools to get basic information on data files. Once familiar with Hera and comfortable with its use, you can begin your scientific investigation, using Hera's Analysis Tools. Throughout, there are exercises to help acquaint you with the science, the data, and the software tools.

This first project deals with finding and interpreting periods in x-ray binaries. Future projects on spectral and image analysis are being developed.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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