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Transcript for Ds9 Image Analysis Software 2015 Webinar

Slide 1:
I am Donna Young and I work with the NASA/Chandra X-Ray Center outreach office. This is a general introduction to the Ds9 Image Analysis Software activities and investigations that have been developed by the Chandra mission. The Chandra ds9 image analysis software allows educators and students to perform X-ray astronomy data analysis using data sets from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the ds9 image display program and software analysis tools. The program uses the same analysis process that an X-Ray astronomer would follow in analyzing the data from a Chandra observation. Ds9 allows the user to download a toolbox and remotely access dedicated Linux servers which process the analysis commands and return the results to the user – turning the user computer or laptop into a virtual Linux machine.

Slide 2:
To access the ds9 materials from the Chandra homepage click on the Education dropdown menu. In the upper left corner click on Classroom Ready Activities and this will take you to the education materials page at Scroll to the bottom of the page – the Imaging section lists the 6 sets of ds9 investigation materials.

Slide 3:
The download instructions for the ds9 software are located at The software can be downloaded to Windows, MacOSX or Linux environments. The website also has self-guided tutorials and activities to learn how to use the software and the analysis tools. All the instructions and websites are in the teacher guides, and students do not need to access this website as will be explained further on.

Slide 4:
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is in an extreme orbit that ranges from 16,000 km at closest approach to Earth to more than a third of the distance to the moon. The highly inclined orbit takes 64 hours with 55 uninterrupted hours of observing time.

Slide 5:
The 2 sets of 4 nested hyperbolic/parabolic mirrors match the grazing incidence of the incoming X-Ray photons and direct them to a focal point at the end of the spacecraft. The photons are detected by one of two scientific instruments – the HRC (high resolution camera) or ACIS (advanced CCD imaging spectrometer). A high energy transmission grating is lowered into the focal plane with the ACIS and a low energy transmission grating for the HRC.

Slide 6:
The photons are detected, converted to a voltage and recorded. Every 8 hours there is a data download to the Deep Space Network (DSN) in Spain, Australia or Goldstone in Barstow, CA. The data is then transmitted through the system to Cambridge, MA where the data is analyzed by Chandra scientists.

Slide 7:
Unique to X-Ray observations and the mirror/grating/scientific instruments aboard the Chandra spacecraft, for each individual X-ray photon detected the amount of energy, the position (x-y coordinates) and time arrival are known – resulting in a high resolution analysis of the objects being observed.

Slide 8:
The Decoding Starlight and 3-Color Composite activities are introductory activities to help students understand images and how numbers are converted to images. There are 6 sets of ds9 imaging materials. Decoding Starlight has both a middle and high school version – the only difference between the two is that there is less missing data to fill in for the middle school version. Decoding Starlight is based on reduced data for the Cas A supernova remnant and the ds9 software is not required. Screen shots from ds9 are used to compare the student results with ds9. Students need to produce an artistic rendition of their results – an image that would be used to accompany a press release to the public. Teachers may have students download and use ds9 after the activity.

3-Color Composite Images does require the download of ds9, and also the download of the NIH software. In this activity the students produce 3 images using green, blue and red filters with the ds9 software, and then merge them together into the final multicolored composite image with NIH.

The next 4 investigations use analysis tools in ds9 – the same tools that scientists use to analyze X-ray data. Each investigation is completely self-contained and teaches students to use one of the analysis tools – which they can then use with other objects in the public archive. The Estimating the Age of Supernova Remnants and Analyzing X-Ray Pulses investigations are most appropriate for physics teachers as they use common equations that are studied in physics courses. X-Ray Spectroscopy of Supernova Remnants is most relevant for chemistry classes as supernova events produce the elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements and students have to identify the elements to then determine the type of supernova event. Star Formation & U/HLXs in the Cartwheel Galaxy would fit well at the end of stellar evolution in an astronomy classroom.

Slide 9:
Each of the 6 sets of materials will have its own webinar introduction. Each one also has an extensive teacher guide, the student handout, and the answer key. Excluding the first two introductory activities, the investigations have a pencil & paper version as well as a ds9 version. Some educators use the pencil & paper version as an introduction to ensure the entire classroom knows what the ds9 analysis tools are performing before assigning the ds9 version. Some classrooms do not have computer access, but they can still get an understanding of image analysis with the pencil & paper versions.

Slide 10:
These materials were not developed to be classroom materials. They follow the guidelines for inquiry-based learning. The URL on the slide is the National Science Teachers (NSTA) position statement on inquiry-based learning. These materials engage students in the process of scientific discovery and they must look at the evidence, formulate explanations for the evidence, and explain the evidence using current scientific knowledge and communicating it to an audience. The student is in charge of the learning, and the teacher is a guide and a resource support as needed. So the materials can be used as a classroom assignment; however they function well as individual projects, science fair projects, or enrichment materials. The teacher guides provide extensive information which teachers may share all or partly with students. The answers are not always definitive and there can be a range of “answers” that are reasonable and/or acceptable. Assessments can be performed by repeating the investigations with observation data for other objects that are listed in the materials. These materials use NASA archived observational data and can be incorporated into STEM education. The materials are also aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Slide 11:
The Chandra educational materials website has excellent supporting resources for multiwavelength astronomy and stellar evolution. You can request available ancillary classroom materials using the materials request form. If you have any questions, please email me.