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Simple Spectral Access Protocol
Version 1.1

IVOA Recommendation 10 February 2012

Interest/Working Group:
Doug Tody, Markus Dolensky, Jonathan McDowell, Francois Bonnarel, Tamas Budavari, Ivo Busko, Alberto Micol, Pedro Osuna, Jesus Salgado, Petr Skoda, Randy Thompson, Frank Valdes, and the Data Access Layer working group
Doug Tody


The Simple Spectral Access (SSA) Protocol (SSAP) defines a uniform interface to remotely discover and access one dimensional spectra. SSA is a member of an integrated family of data access interfaces altogether comprising the Data Access Layer (DAL) of the IVOA. SSA is based on a more general data model capable of describing most tabular spectrophotometric data, including time series and spectral energy distributions (SEDs) as well as 1-D spectra; however the scope of the SSA interface as specified in this document is limited to simple 1-D spectra, including simple aggregations of 1-D spectra. The form of the SSA interface is simple: clients first query the global resource registry to find services of interest and then issue a data discovery query to selected services to determine what relevant data is available from each service; the candidate datasets available are described uniformly in a VOTable format document which is returned in response to the query. Finally, the client may retrieve selected datasets for analysis. Spectrum datasets returned by an SSA spectrum service may be either precomputed, archival datasets, or they may be virtual data which is computed on the fly to respond to a client request. Spectrum datasets may conform to a standard data model defined by SSA, or may be native spectra with custom project-defined content. Spectra may be returned in any of a number of standard data formats. Spectral data is generally stored externally to the VO in a format specific to each spectral data collection; currently there is no standard way to represent astronomical spectra, and virtually every project does it differently. Hence spectra may be actively mediated to the standard SSA-defined data model at access time by the service, so that client analysis programs do not have to be familiar with the idiosyncratic details of each data collection to be accessed.

Status of this document

This document has been produced by the Data Access Layer Working Group.
It has been reviewed by IVOA Members and other interested parties, and has been endorsed by the IVOA Executive Committee as an IVOA Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document. IVOA's role in making the Recommendation is to draw attention to the specification and to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperability inside the Astronomical Community.

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