William Pence

Held scientific staff positions at the University of Sussex, England, the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney, and the STScI in Baltimore. Was a astrophysicist at the NASA/GSFC HEASARC from 1990 to retirement in 2014. Continue to hold and emeritus position at the HEASARC. Have been involved with the development of the FITS format for many years.

Affiliation – NASA's HEASARC Position – Astrophysicist - Emeritus


CFITSIO - 3 decades of collaborative software development

CFITSIO was originally developed at NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) in 1991 as a simple set of C and Fortran callable subroutines for reading and writing keywords and data arrays in FITS format disk files. This enabled the HEASARC’s data analysis software to directly process the FITS files in its archive. Most other astronomical data analysis systems at that time required that FITS format files be imported into a local data format for processing, and the final data products then had to be translated back into FITS format before placing them in the public archive.

The ADASS conferences, which coincidentally also started in 1991, directly led to the development of many major enhancements in the CFITSIO software over the following decades. This talk will describe some of the collaborations with more than 70 contributors, many of whom have been participants in the ADASS conferences over the years. This provides a good example of the benefits of open source software development.