I've seen that a large block of Pan-Starrs data has been released and is available on-line and how the distributors of the data expect professionals and the general public to use the data in their research. I am part of the general public and was wondering how accessible the data actually is? For instance if i were interested in searching a small section of sky for a moving object, i would need multiple "photos" "data sets"? over time in order to see the movement. Would special software be required? How would one even start the process?


There are two main datasets available from the PanSTARRS survey which are available from the archive at MAST/STScI. These are the Object Catalog, a (large) list of parameters such as position, brightness, shape etc (full list of catalog fields) and the Image Cutouts service which, well, cuts out sections of the images. (The survey went over the same patch of sky several times in 5 filters so there are deeper stacks available)

If you are looking for moving objects then you will need to use the "warp" single epoch images as a moving object would be averaged away in the stack (unless it was done on the object's motion). You will also need a source of positions in order to cutout the suitable postage stamps in the right places as the PanSTARRS archive doesn't support querying by moving objects or orbital elements. You would need to use something like the Minor Planet Center's Ephemeris Service or JPL's HORIZONS service to generate these positions (use 'F51' as the Observatory Code/Observers Location as this is the MPC site code for PanSTARRS1). Once you have a source of positions, you will probably want to investigate querying the Image Cutout Service via script/code; the Image Cutout Service documentation has instructions and a Python Jupyter notebook showing how to do this.

I should also caution you that one of the goals of the PanSTARRS survey, which my institution was a partner in, was to find moving objects. A lot of effort was put into the Moving Object Processing System (MOPS; paper, which I'm on, available (for free) here at IOPscience) and PanSTARRS was one of the two major sources of new Near Earth Objects (NEOs), see purpley bars in this plot at the Center for NEO Studies. I'm not saying there isn't new moving objects in there, we go back and search through the PanSTARRS data for precoveries of newly discovered NEOs that the automatic software missed on a roughly monthly basis, but bear this in mind before launching into a big project.

  • $\begingroup$ This is fantastic information. Thank you very much. My goal for the use of this data is to see if i can get all the parts working together to identify something that's already been described. If i can achieve that, i hope to move on. $\endgroup$ – andyhall Feb 9 at 15:20

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