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NEWS
Data From Pan-STARRS Publicly Released
January 17, 2017

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii, publicly released data from Pan-STARRS — the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System — the world’s largest digital sky survey.


The Pan-STARRS1 Observatory is a 1.8-meter telescope located at the summit of Haleakala, on Maui, Hawaii. For four years beginning in May 2010, this first Pan-STARRS observatory surveyed the entire three-quarters of the sky visible from Hawaii many times in many colors of light. One of the survey's goals was to look for moving objects and transient or variable objects, including asteroids that could potentially threaten the Earth. Credit: R. Ratkowski

“The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” said Dr. Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories. “Pan-STARRS has made discoveries from Near Earth Objects and Kuiper Belt Objects in the Solar System to lonely planets between the stars; it has mapped the dust in three dimensions in our galaxy and found new streams of stars; and it has found new kinds of exploding stars and distant quasars in the early universe.”

“With this release we anticipate that scientists — as well as students and even casual users — around the world will make many new discoveries about the universe from the wealth of data collected by Pan-STARRS,” Dr. Chambers added.

The four years of data comprise 3 billion separate sources, including stars, galaxies, and various other objects. The immense collection contains 2 petabytes of data, which is equivalent to one billion selfies, or one hundred times the total content of Wikipedia.

This research program was undertaken by the PS1 Science Consortium — a collaboration among 10 research institutions in four countries with support from NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Consortium observations for the sky survey, mapping everything visible from Hawaii, were completed in April 2014. This data is now being released publicly.

The roll-out is being done in two stages. The first release is the “Static Sky,” which is the average of each of those individual epochs. For every object, there’s an average value for its position, its brightness, and its colors. In 2017, the second set of data will be released, providing a catalog that gives the information and images for each individual epoch.

The data can be accessed at panstarrs.stsci.edu.


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