VESPA / Call for data services

Scope of the call

The aim of the VESPA activity in the Europlanet2020-RI programme is to make Planetary Science and Solar System data accessible and searchable through a system derived from the Astronomical Virtual Observatory. Up to 50 new databases are expected to be made available on-line during the 4-year Europlanet2020-RI programme. To get a better idea of what this system is about, just take a look at the VESPA data query service.

One way to acquire new databases is through a yearly call to the science community. Via this 3rd VESPA / Call of Data Services, between 4 and 5 projects will be selected to enlarge the data content accessible via the VESPA interface. A common workshop will be organized with the selected participants to help them design and set up their project, and to open it to the users community. This workshop will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, from April 16 to 20, 2018, at Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Science.

- Typical case: You have generated a dataset for a publication, you want to share it using an advanced query system
- Secondary case: You're working with a lot of data subsets from one or several archives, and you want to enhance the access with advanced query capabilities (e.g., ground based telescopic support for Rosetta; several disconnected spectral databases of minerals, etc)
- Any other situation is acceptable (e.g., historical datasets, pedagogic tools…), but interest to the Europlanet community must be demonstrated.

Time line

Call opens: 13 December 2017
Call closes: 23 February 2018
Selection of teams by March 7th, 2018
Telecons with selected teams from March 12 to 23, 2018
Workshop: 16 to 20 April 2018, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Prague, Czech Republic
The last day of the workshop is planned to be dedicated to interested teams who want to discuss how to connect simulation codes in VESPA.
Post-workshop telecon, May 2018
Finalization review performed with the proposers, June 2018
Service delivery date: June 2018


  • Who is eligible?
  • Research teams in Planetary Science or neighbouring fields. Primarliy support will be given to EU teams but collaboration with teams external to the EU will be considered by the VESPA management team. VESPA beneficiaries will implement services through other means.
  • What do I gain?
  • Visibility for your published work/observations.
    Satisfaction of providing the community with high quality reference data.
    A prompt answer to daily mails asking for your data!
    If you already have a database, VESPA will provide high level search functions on its contents, on-line visu / analysis capacities, and cross-correlation with other datasets in neighbouring fields, with minimum efforts. Your data will be searchable from the VESPA interface.
  • What is the outcome?
  • At the end of the process, you will have a TAP server installed in your institute, with one data service connected to the Planetary Science Virtual Observatory and the know-how to implement additional services and to share more data. A single server can accommodate many services in Planetary Science, Heliophysics, and Astronomy.
  • Which data?
  • Derived / highly processed data are preferred, because their content can be of interest to other communities.
  • What type of data access / data status?
  • Data will be publicly open/accessible - you are responsible for checking the legal status of the data you wish to provide, and accept to share them publicly.
  • Which support?
  • VESPA provides support to design and install a data service through preliminary telecon, workshop, post-workshop helpdesk. A finalization review will be performed with the proposer.
  • What do VESPA pay for?
  • We pay for a trip to the workshop venue, economy class + local expenses (for 2 persons per team)
  • What skills does this require?
  • You need a science expert of the field and a software engineer - at least someone not reluctant to editing SQL routine templates and installing applications. The installation process has been optimized to remain as light as possible.
  • Where will the data be located?
  • Data services are installed in the proposing institutes, which have to set up and maintain a server and a database. Services may link to data stored in external repositories - European data repositories are available for this purpose (e.g., Zenodo). In case the service links to data existing in a Planetary Science repository already providing a service to the community (such as ESA's PSA), the added value must be clearly demonstrated.
  • How many proposals are selected?
  • The baseline is to select 4 to 5 proposals per call.
  • Who is evaluating?
  • VESPA VA-task3 members (IRAP/Toulouse, IWF/Graz, IAP/Prague, IAPS/Rome, Observatoire de Paris)
  • Are non-European teams also eligible?
  • Yes - although travelling refund must be reviewed.
  • When will the next call take place?
  • This is an annual call.
  • What does VESPA mean by the way?
  • VESPA stands for Virtual European Solar and Planetary Access. This time, it will lead you to Prague, capital city of the Czech republic.

Evaluation criteria

  • Scientific merit:
    • Existing publications
    • Data quality (used for publication? + data quality assessment plan)
    • Size of the community
    • Added value of proposed database/service, compared to existing databases/archives
  • Status of the data is of course a major issue (reserved services sharing proprietary data are currently studied only internally to VESPA)
  • Science domain balance in VESPA. Pre-selection may occur if the subject matter is not mature enough in VESPA - in which case VESPA will be happy to study the problem together with the proposing team.
  • Readiness level of data products and database:
    • Data readily available at time of proposal/workshop
    • Finalized, directly usable data products are expected/preferred
    • Standard format and available metadata (or plan to derive them from the data products/documentation)
  • Team capabilities:
    • Scientific assessment of data quality, possible update of dataset, recalibration, extension...
    • personnel available for setting up a service (2-3 telecons + workshop): at least 1 scientist + 1 engineer (FTE involved depend on lots of factors)
    • Sustainability (at least for 5 years), and estimated ability to maintain the service (e.g.: is there any data distribution system already installed?)
    • Additional databases that could be implemented in the future by the team
    • Consensus/agreement in the proposing team is important, in particular to ensure that local technical support will be available

Example proposal

Proposals must address the following (in addition to above criteria), with reasonable details to allow the VESPA team to assess the level of maturity. These are mandatory fields in the submission form:

  • Team info:
    • Name / Address / Lab / Country
    • Science Contact / technical contact
  • Service info:
    • Title of database
    • Description of database: science theme / purpose, context, potential audience, related publications. Origin/status of data.
    • One or several use cases to explain a typical use for research and/or education
  • Service details:
    • Processing level? (raw/calibrated, derived/processed)
    • Readiness level of dataset / descriptions
    • Format of products
    • Number of products, size of database
    • Scope of database: living/increasing, completed, limited in time coverage?
    • Do you own data rights (if not, what is their status)? Do you (plan to) host the data?
    • Data collection status: bunch of files + doc vs existing database (and what type: SQL, XML...)
    • Description of local technical maintenance / sustainability plan

Propose your project!

Please propose your project via the Submission Form. In addition to the mandatory fields of the form PDF documents describing the project in more detail can be submitted (1 to 4 pages expected):

*** VESPA AO Submission Form, 2018 ***

Further information

VESPA standards Standards used in VESPA


  • Citing VESPA
    If your research benefits from the use of VESPA, we would appreciate if you could include the following acknowledgement and reference in your publication:
    "This research has made use of the VESPA portal and services ( funded by European Union's under grant agreement No 871149"
    VESPA: A community-driven Virtual Observatory in Planetary Science. Erard S et al., 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2017.05.013
    Please also acknowledge the original data providers.
    Except where explicitly mentioned, data are distributed under Etalab Open License 2.0 (compliant with CC-BY 2.0 license).
  • The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.
    The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208.
    This work used the EGI Infrastructure with the dedicated support of IN2P3-IRES and CESNET-MCC.
    VESPA has first been designed in the frame of Europlanet-RI JRA4 work package (IDIS activity).
    Additional funding was provided in France by the Action Spécifique Observatoire Virtuel and Programme National de Planétologie / INSU.

    Europlanet Project supported by the European Union VOParis Observatoire