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Data packages

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QuickLinks: general: directories report files hints GIRAFFE: information calib products issues


Data packages have been delivered for period P87 (April-September 2011) and before. For new data, acquired after the begin of October 2011, data packages are no longer created. Users can access their raw data in electronic form through the ESO User Portal.

Data for VLT pre-imaging runs are processed and delivered as before.

For completeness, the structure of the historical packagesis described below.

Science data have been processed by the pipelines with the best available calibration data. Please note that ESO is not assuming any responsibility in respect to the usefulness of the reduced data. The adopted reduction strategy may not be suitable for the scientific purpose of the observations.


The top-level structure of the data package is as follows:


For each observation block (OB) that has been executed on Paranal, you find all measured raw data (FITS files) in a directory named by the OB number (FITS key HIERARCH.ESO.OBS.ID). If pipeline products exist, these are also added in the OB directory.

The GEN_CALIB directory collects all those calibration files (raw and products) that have been measured as part of the regular calibration plan, and calibration frames of a general nature (like static line tables). The GEN_INFO directory has general information, like data reports and night logs.

The tree shown above is the logical structure, which means that this is the way the data have been organized before they have been put onto media. Depending on the size of your package, the directories may be distributed across several media. It is a good idea to create the original tree on your local disk and then copy all files from the media into this tree.


<OBS_ID> (e.g. 179211)

For each executed observation block of your run, the package contains a directory with all measured data from that OB. All data under <OBS_ID> carry your run ID.

Note that some of your OBs may have been executed more than once. In particular, if time permitted, observatory staff try to re-execute OBs which produced data clearly out of the specified constraints. Check out the NIGHTLOG.html file for details (go to "OB information"). All data from OBs that have been executed multiple times are found in the same directory.

Each OB directory is further subdivided into subdirectories for science frames, calibration frames, and log files. In many cases, there will be science data only, but there may also be OBs with attached calibration data:



All acquisition frames (DPR.CATG=ACQUISITION) from the OB are contained in this directory. This directory only exists if such data exist.


All raw science frames (DPR.CATG=SCIENCE) from the OB are contained in this directory.


Here you find the pipeline-processed science data. The naming scheme can be found here.


If measured, raw calibration frames (DPR.CATG=CALIB) produced by the OB are contained in this directory ("attached calibrations"). These are the ones which have been taken upon user's request in addition to the ones from the calibration plan.

Calibrations measured as part of the regular calibration plan are stored under the GEN_CALIB directory.


The pipeline products of the raw attached calibrations are delivered here.

The CALIB products are renamed. The naming scheme can be found here.


This directory holds logging information about processing and packing of your data:

  • Association Blocks (.ab)
  • association logs (.alog)
  • logs of the pipeline processing (extension .rblog)
  • scoring results (.html) (optional)
  • extraction from the nightlog, OB grade, QC0 report (.qcm)
  • a reduction comment (.cmt) (optional)


  • Association Blocks (ABs) are text files which contain all the information required to pipeline-process and pack data. This information includes the reduction recipe, the input raw file(s), the calibration products needed for processing, and the names of the final products. More ...
  • Association logs are delivered since P80. They are a simplified version of ABs, designed to provide the association information essential for the user. More ...
  • The pipeline processing log is a record of the science reduction process, with a detailed log of reduction steps, results etc.
  • The scoring report is intended to give some feedback about the data quality. It is still experimental. More ...
  • The nightlog file is an extracted version (per OB) of the summary qc0 report and the NIGHTLOG.html file (see below). More ...

That directory in addition holds QC plots, if available.


This directory collects all calibration frames from the regular calibration plan that are associated to your science data. It also contains their pipeline products, and calibration frames of a general nature (like static line tables). Calibrations that have been measured by user-defined OBs and that have been used for pipeline processing of science data may be included here in addition.

The directory has four subdirectories (gen, logs, proc, raw), two of which have further fine-structure:

cal1 cal2 cal3 cal4
cal1 cal2 cal3 cal4


Raw calibration files. These divide into raw file types (e.g. BIAS, FLAT etc.; see instrument specific section below).


Calibration products derived from the raw calibrations. These divide into file types like the raw calibration files, see instrument specific section below.

The CALIB products are renamed. The naming scheme can be found here.


Association Blocks, association logs and processing logs for the calibration files under GEN_CALIB. There might also be scoring logs (.html files).


General calibration data of static nature.

[Archive] Additional or missing raw calibration files may be retrieved anytime from the generic ESO Archive form, or from the instrument specific forms.

Calibration data are public immediately while SCIENCE data normally have a proprietary period of one year.


This directory hosts some general information. It has the following subdirectories:

ObservingReports nightlogs, OB report (HTML files), association report
scripts executable scripts (presently one: print_all_reports)



The data package contains the following report files:
README.html the package portal page: point your browser here to find all information top
ServiceMode.html this file top
product_codes.html a table describing the naming scheme for product files top
archive_<RUN_ID.txt list of all proprietary files (SCIENCE, attached CALIBs) as read from the archive GEN_INFO
qc0_<RUN_ID>.txt list of all SCIENCE files, containing the comparison between the user constraint set and the actual values GEN_INFO
NIGHTLOG.html set of html files with nightlog, OB and association information GEN_INFO/ObservingReports
list_sciRaw_<OBS_ID>.txt etc.
summary report of the fits files in each directory (these files are provided in text [*.txt] and PostScript format)  all data directories

The executable script print_all_reports under GEN_INFO/scripts can be used to print all postscript files in your package.

Archive report: archive_<RUN_ID>

While the above listings are about files in the package, the archive report is the result of a query to the ESO Archive. It is useful as a check on the completeness of the data package. All files created by OBs which have been generated by the PI are listed here. The list includes all SCIENCE files, and the attached calibrations, and acquisitions, if applicable.

archive report
keyword table
sample file

QC0 report: qc0_<RUN_ID>

This report is sent only for Service Mode runs.

This file contains a report of quality control parameters ('QC level 0' where level 0 stands for Quality Control without pipeline processing) for your raw SCIENCE files. These parameters are airmass, seeing, moon distance, and fractional lunar illumination. They have been measured on site (column 'msrd'). They are compared to the required values as defined in your OBs ('targt') and flagged (OK/NOK).

The list is intended to give a rough indication of whether or not the required constraints have been fulfilled. They should not be interpreted in a too formal way, however. E.g., there may be cases where the seeing was worse than required, but this was compensated by a longer exposure time. Check the night reports for details.

Note that the seeing values reported here are DIMM seeing values, they are not measured on the frame. If the alarm flag ("NOK") is set in the SEEING column, the DIMM seeing value was larger than your seeing constraint during the indicated obseration. However, in many cases, the delivered seeing in the instrument focal plane is better than the DIMM seeing. Whenever possible, the on-site astronomer has measured the focal plane immediately after or during execution to determine the success or failure of your observation. Thus, your observation may have been completed within your specifications, even if the SEEING alarm flag is set. Please review the affected observation carefully and check the night reports for details.

QC0 report
keyword table
[keyword table
sample file (.txt)  
[qc0 table]

Night logs, OB logs and Association report

This is a set of HTML files with night log information, OB grading information and data association information. All relevant information about the nights contained in your package is included here, as well as information about each OB in your delivery.

Point your browser to GEN_INFO/ObservingReports/NIGHTLOG.html (or start from the package portal page, README.html) and navigate per night (labeled as 1), per OB (2) or per set of files (3).

The HTML files also come as stripped-down, printer-friendly versions. The files are organized to have a summary on top, and details below.

You can use either the navigation bar to jump to a specific night/OB/set of files, or use the up/down arrows (night logs only) to browse sequentially. The OB navigation bar (2) uses colour coding to give you a quick impression about OB grading. There are additional links to ambient condition information.

The association report (3) organizes your data and their association. It has two main levels: the OB (observing block), and the AB (association block) which collects raw file(s) and associated information like product files, calibration files, log files etc. This report gives you an impression how the data in your package are logically linked, while the listings in each directory give you a table of contents. File names in the association report may show up several times, e.g when a calibration file has been used for processing more than one science file.


  • The external links (like the ASM links: seeing, sky transparency etc.) will only work with network connection.
  • The ASM links require java-enabled browsers.
  • The navigation bars read best with style-sheets and java-enabled browsers.
Sample nightlog files


Known IRAF problems

  • Filename Length. To display or manipulate the FITS files with older versions of IRAF (before 2.11), you can:
    - copy these FITS files to your hard-disk and rename them with filenames <= 32 characters in length;
    - create symbolic links with filenames <= 32 characters in length to your DVD files.

  • Header Interpretation. ESO FITS files use the ESO HIERARCH FITS keyword extensions standard to all ESO telescopes. Note that IRAF treats all ESO HIERARCH header lines as COMMENT lines, i.e. IRAF and IDL cannot automatically interpret the information provided in ESO HIERARCH header lines. The problem may be solved using the tool hierarch28. Find information about this tool here.

  • RA, DEC. Please note that the RA and DEC keywords are recorded in degrees. To translate these keywords so that they can be used by IRAF you have to use the asthedit task in the noao.astutil package. The help file for this task gives an example of how to translate the ESO format to the IRAF format.

Stand-alone FITS handling tools

Find information about FITS header handling tools (e.g. dfits, fitsort, hierarch28) here.



version of this description:  P85 (April 2010)

2010-05-14: FACB snapshots are available and included in the package as ACQUISITION
packages created both for Service Mode and Visitor Mode
packages can be downloaded on the ESO User Portal
all packages now have additional logging information, about scoring, OB comments and data reduction comments (here)
new GIRAFFE CCD "Carreras" operational (replacing "Bruce"); science recipe removes bias from PRE/OVERSCAN regions (pipeline bias removal option "PROFILE"); static (general) calibration products updated, names compatible with general naming scheme

2008-01-31: Science data corrected for drifts with information from SimCal fibre (DPR.TYPE=OBJECT,SimCal)
(see "science recipe" for more)
2007-10-01: master_dark used to remove the CCD glow in the science reduction (see "science recipe" for more); done only until 2008-03-13 when the old CCD was replaced by the new one; for the new CCD, this correction is not necessary.

FLAMES programmes using both GIRAFFE and UVES spectrographs ("COMBINED mode") receive two separated sets of media, one for the GIRAFFE data and one for the UVES data. This page contains an overview of the structure and content of the GIRAFFE data package. The description of the data package for FLAMES/UVES data can be found here.

For further information about GIRAFFE data and QC have a look at:


Science data have been processed up to 2011-10-01. No science data have been processed since then.

Raw frame description
SCIENCE, OzPoz; all slits debias, extract, wavelength-calibration
since April 2005: flat-fielding
SCIENCE_RBNSPECTRA, SCIENCE_RBNERRORS (rebinned spectra and their errors); SCIENCE_EXTSPECTRA, SCIENCE_EXTERRORS (extracted spectra and their errors)
SCIENCE, SimCal there is no difference to OzPoz data, the recipe currently makes no use of the simultaneous calibration
as above
as above
SCIENCE, IFU and Argus only there is in addition the reconstructed image

as above, plus SCIENCE_RCSPECTRA, SCIENCE_RCERRORS (2D reconstructed image and error);
since June 2007: plus SCIENCE_CUBE_SPECTRA and SCIENCE_CUBE_ERRORS (3D reconstructed image and error), Argus only

* as used in the file names, see here

The naming scheme for SCIENCE product files can be found here.


The GIRAFFE raw and processed calibrations are mostly produced by the calibration plan. Only exception are attached flat-field calibrations that can be specified by the user.

More about calibrations ...

The GEN_CALIB directory for GIRAFFE data is structured as follows:


It contains, for each setup used for the SCIENCE measurements:

  • bias frames (BIAS)
  • lamp flats (LAMP,FLAT)
  • wavelength calibration lamp observations (LAMP,WAVE).
  • If available, Argus data usually also receive a standard star file from the same night (STD).

An example: your science data have been measured in Medusa mode, plate 1, high-resolution grating, central wavelength 651.5 nm. There have been daytime calibrations for that mode, plus 3 attached flat files in the night. You may expect the following calibration data, per mode:

under GEN_CALIB/raw:

  • raw BIAS files (usually 5),
  • raw FLATs for mode "Medusa1_HR_651.5" (usually 3)
  • one raw WAVE for mode "Medusa1_HR_651.5"

under <OBS_ID>/cal_raw:

  • the attached raw flats from your OBs

Since the "Medusa1_HR_651.5" setup is pipeline-supported, you will also receive:

under GEN_CALIB/proc:

  • the master bias,
  • localization products from the FLATs,
  • the dispersion solution from the WAVE frame,
  • extraction products from the FLATs.

under GEN_CALIB/logs:

  • the Association Blocks and processing logs for the files under GEN_CALIB/proc

under <OBS_ID>/cal_proc:

  • products of the attached raw flat calibration files

under GEN_CALIB/gen:

  • the high-resolution grating table,
  • the slit geometry table for Medusa1 HR 651.5nm,
  • the ThAr line list for setting 651.5 nm.

Known reduction problems (see also here)

All setups, with the exception of three very blue ones, are pipeline-supported. Check out setups here. The IFU modes are supported since December 2005.

The SCIENCE reduction (up to September 2011) includes (average) extraction, flat-fielding and wavelength calibration. There is no sky-subtraction. Sky subtraction can be achieved by identifying the sky fibres and subtracting their signal. Flat-fielding automatically corrects for the relative transmission differences between the fibres.

Since January 2008, the SCIENCE reduction by the Giraffe pipeline takes into account the signal of the SIMCAL fibres.

Since May 2008, GIRAFFE has a new detector, a red-sensitive e2v CCD ("Carreras"). All data from period 81 on use this new CCD. It requires a bias removal strategy different from the one used for the old CCD. Due to a "history" effect the BIAS level may be over-estimated if taken from master bias frames, if compared to science frames. Therefore, the bias removal for science files (and all calibration files as well) is performed with an artificial bias constructed from the PRESCAN and OVERSCAN columns (columns 1-50 and 2199-2248). Find more information here.

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