IAU FITS Working Group Bussiness Meeting
August 2006

Minutes of the IAU FITS Working Group business meeting that 
took place on 17 Aug 2006 in Prague - William Pence

Attendees: Peter Fox, Carlos Gabriel, Francoise Genova, Preben Grosbol, 
Robert Hanisch, Francois Ochsenbein, William Pence, Arnold Rots, Pat Wallace 
(plus several others).

1. Opening remarks by out-going Commission 5 president Francoise Genove.

It is anticipated that the FITS Working Group will continue without any 
significant organizational changes in the next triannium, with the current 
members and officers continuing their roles. Ray Norris is the new 
Commission 5 president for the 2006 - 2009 triannium.

2.  Discussion of any membership or procedures changes.

No one at the meeting offered any changes to the membership of the FITS WG, 
but suggestions for new members may be sent to the chairman (Pence) at any time.

There was a brief discussion about the role of the Regional FITS committees. 
One shortcoming of the current system is that several regions with well 
developed astronomical facilities (e.g., China, India, South America, South 
Africa) are not currently represented.  No one expressed a strong desire to 
change the status quo, but possible changes that were suggested included:
  - creating an 'At Large' regional committee to represent all other
    regions that do not already have a committee
  - abolish the current committees and create new committees based on
    wavelength or science discipline (e.g., radio, X-ray, spectroscopy,
    imaging, etc.)

3.  Summary of Accomplishments in the past 3 Years (presented by Pence)

  - Reorganized the officers and membership of the WG
  - Established written rules and procedures
  - Approve 2 new MIME types for use with FITS files
  - Appointed a 4th Regional committee (Australia/New Zealand)
  - Approved the variable-length array and TDIMn conventions
    for use with binary tables
  - Approved WCS Paper III (spectral axes)
  - Approved support for 64-bit integers in FITS files
  - Released a new version 2.1 of the FITS Standard reflecting the
    recent approved changes to FITS
  - Approved the HEALPix sky projection WCS convention
  - Created a new Registry of FITS conventions

4.  Activities for the upcoming 3 years

Pence started the discussion with the following list of proposed activities:

  - Add more conventions to the Registry (potentially 50 - 100 in total)
  - Convene a technical panel to make minor updates and clarifications
    to the FITS Standard document
  - Update (or retire) the 10 year old FITS User's Guide
  - Transfer material from the NRAO FITS web site to the FITS Support
    Office web site
  - Support the completion of WCS Paper IV (on distortions)
  - Help draft a new WCS Paper V on time coordinates

Suggestions from other WG members included:

- Promote the development of new conventions for storing color
   images in FITS files (especially for journal publications)
- Promote more standardization on the value of the BUNIT/TUNITn
   keywords and in general promote the development of units conversion
   software and utilities to make it easier to compare observations
   that are recorded in different unit systems.
- Consider designing a new "Super-FITS" data file format, that overcomes
   the current 8-character keyword name and 80-character card limitations.

No specific recommendations were made regarding any of these suggestions; 
further discussions will take place on the IAU-FWG email list.

End of Meeting
Dr. William Pence                       
NASA/GSFC Code 662       HEASARC        +1-301-286-4599 (voice)
Greenbelt MD 20771                      +1-301-286-1684 (fax)