Press Release

$10 Million NSF Grant To Fund National Virtual Observatory

By SpaceRef Editor
October 30, 2001
Filed under , ,

“… I think this is likely to change astronomy as we know it.”

The Internet brings its users the world online. Astronomers from 17
research institutions have announced that they’re starting an ambitious
new project to put the universe online.

The National Virtual Observatory (NVO), headed by astronomer Alex Szalay
of The Johns Hopkins University and computer scientist Paul Messina of
the California Institute of Technology, will unite astronomical
databases of many earthbound and orbital observatories, taking advantage
of the latest computer technology and data storage and analysis
techniques. The goal is to maximize the potential for new scientific
insights from the data by making them available in an accessible,
seamlessly unified form to professional researchers, amateur astronomers
and students.

The new project is funded by a five-year, $10 million Information
Technology Research grant from the National Science Foundation.
Organizers characterize their goal as “building the framework” for
the National Virtual Observatory.

“This project will reach across the astronomical community,” Szalay
says. “The number of people interested has been growing exponentially,
and I think this is likely to change astronomy as we know it.”

NVO senior personnel:

  • Charles Alcock, University of Pennsylvania

  • Kirk Borne, Astronomical Data Center/Raytheon

  • Tim Cornwell, NSF National Radio Astronomy Observatory

  • David De Young, NSF National Optical Astronomy Observatory

  • Giussepina Fabbiano, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

  • Alyssa Goodman, Harvard University

  • Jim Gray, Microsoft Research

  • Robert Hanisch, Space Telescope Science Institute

  • George Helou, NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center

  • Stephen Kent, Fermilab

  • Carl Kesselman, University of Southern California

  • Miron Livny, University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • Carol Lonsdale, NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center


  • Andrew Moore, Carnegie Mellon University

  • Reagan Moore, San Diego Supercomputing Center/UCSD

  • Jeff Pier, United States Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station

  • Ray Plante, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  • Thomas Prince, California Institute of Technology

  • Ethan Schreier, Johns Hopkins University/STScI

  • Nicholas White, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

  • Roy Williams, California Institute of Technology

To see and read more about NVO, please click on: and links in and

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by the
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA),
for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is the host institution
for STScI. JHU is also one of 29 U.S. universities that are members of
the AURA consortium. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of
international co-operation between ESA and NASA.


Michael Purdy

Johns Hopkins University

(Phone: 410-516-7160; E-mail: [email protected])

Robert Tindol

California Institute of Technology

(Phone: 626-395-3631; E-mail: [email protected])

Cheryl Gundy

Space Telescope Science Institute

(Phone: 410-338-4707; E-mail: [email protected])

Amber Jones

National Science Foundation

(Phone: 703-292-8070; E-mail: [email protected])

SpaceRef staff editor.