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Quality Control and
Data Processing

CAL | HC | refs | QC
Trending & QC1
general info
QC links:
General information | Data format

General information


Pipelines are used at ESO to process both calibration data and science data and to retrieve quality information. There is a dedicated pipeline for each VLT and VLTI instrument. Find general information about ESO reduction pipelines here.


The main functionalities of the pipelines are:

  • create master calibration data,
  • reduce science frames,
  • extract QC information from the data.
QC Garching creates master calibration data from all raw calibration data. The raw data are stored in the ESO Archive and are public. They are quality-checked and used for data reduction and for trending.

For selected instrument modes, we offer science-grade data products processed with the pipelines.


There are two instances of the data reduction pipelines:

  • at the instrument workstation on Paranal, running in automatic mode,
  • at HQ Garching, run by the Quality Control Group in the optimized mode.
The automatic mode is used for quick look and for on-site quality control. It processes all raw data sequentially, as they arrive from the instrument. If calibration products ("master calibrations") are required for processing science data, these are taken from a database with standard, pre-manufactured calibration products. The automatic mode is not tuned to obtain the best possible results.

The optimized mode is the mode, which uses all data of a night, including the daytime calibrations. The calibration data are sorted and grouped according to their dependencies. Master calibration data are created. Their quality is checked.

KMOS part

The KMOS pipeline is publicly available here. Under this link you also find the pipeline Users Manual.

Data format
General information | Data format

Raw Data

The KMOS detector is a 3x1 mosaic of 3 Hawaii-2RG arrays, each with 2048x2048 pixels.

file type size of raw file
calibration or science frame 48 MB


Raw calibration and science data come as FITS files with one primary header unit (HDU) and three extensions. The primary HDU has all keywords necessary to identify the observation and the state of the telescope and the instrument; the data part is empty. Pixel data are stored in the extensions, one extension for each array.


Pipeline products also have extensions which contain either tables, 2D pixel data, or 3D data cubes. They come in two different variaties. If the product refers to the detector array (like a master dark) then it has three extensions or a multiple of three extensions. For products that refer to individual IFUs, there are 24 or a multiple of 24 extensions.

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