What is the IVOA?

The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) was formed in June 2002 with a mission to “facilitate the international coordination and collaboration necessary for the development and deployment of the tools, systems and organizational structures necessary to enable the international utilization of astronomical archives as an integrated and interoperating virtual observatory.” The IVOA now comprises over 20 VO programs from around the world. Membership is open to other national and international projects according to the IVOA Guidelines for Participation.

The work of the IVOA focuses on the development of standards. Working Groups are constituted with cross-project membership in those areas where key interoperability standards and technologies have to be defined and agreed upon. The Working Groups develop standards using a process modeled after the World Wide Web Consortium, in which Working Drafts progress to Proposed Recommendations and finally to Recommendations. Recommendations are ultimately endorsed by the Virtual Observatory Working Group of Commission 5 (Astronomical Data) of the International Astronomical Union. The IVOA also has Interest Groups that discuss experiences using VO technologies and provide feedback to the Working Groups.

Senior representatives from each national VO project form the IVOA Executive Committee. A chair is chosen from among the representatives and serves a one-year term, preceded by a one-year term as deputy chair. The Executive Committee meets 3-4 times a year to discuss goals, priorities, and strategies.

The IVOA holds two Interoperability Workshops each year: a week-long meeting in spring, typically May, and a shorter meeting in fall that is either coordinated with the annual ADASS conference or with a regional VO project meeting. These meetings are opportunities for the Working Groups and Interest Groups to have face-to-face discussions and for the more difficult technical questions to be resolved.

Additional Information:

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