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Referencing Data Sets in Astronomical Literature

The Astrophysics Data Centers Executive Council (ADEC) has recommended a naming convention for referencing datasets in astronomical literature. The convention is basically to add a prefix to the current dataset names producing a reference of the form:

  • "ADS" indicates that the ADS is the "registering authority" for ADEC identifiers,
  • "facility" is a name registered with the ADS in the form: (but apparently not mandated?) "observatory.telescope". Space-based observatories are designated as either "Sa" for satellites, and "Sh" for shuttle experiments.
  • "identifier" is the data set name as currently used (e.g., SWP16877).

The list of MAST-relevant facilities registered with the ADS are stored online in an xml-format file at: and include the following:

  • NRAO.VLA National Radio Astronomy Observatory/VLA, Very Large Array (because of FIRST data)
  • PBO.HPOL Pine Bluff Observatory, Halfwave Spectropolarimeter ( for HPOL data)
  • Sa.COPERNICUS Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 3 satellite
  • Sa.EUVE Extreme UltraViolet Explorer satellite
  • Sa.FUSE Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer satellite
  • Sa.GALEX Galaxy Evolution Explorer satellite
  • Sa.HST Hubble Space Telescope satellite
  • Sa.IUE International Ultraviolet Explorer
  • Sa.ORFEUS Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer satellite
  • Sh.HUT Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope
  • Sh.UIT Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope
  • Sh.WUPPE Wisconsin Ultraviolet PhotoPolarimeter Experiment
Note that the ASTRO telescopes are considered Shuttle experiments rather than satellites so they have the "Sh" rather than "Sa" notation for the observatory, (which I guess is technically true, they were never released from the shuttle.

Examples of valid names would be:

  • ADS/Sa.IUE#swp16877
  • ADS/Sh.UIT#FUV2323
  • ADS/Sa.HST#U32L0104T (a WFPC2 image)
  • ADS/Sa.FUSE#Z9104501007
  • ADS/PBO.HPOL#kap-cas_19900925

To search for a given data set using the above naming conventions, go to This will search not only MAST, but all the NASA data centers. More information on the ADS dataset verification service can be found at

To verify the existence of particular MAST data sets using the standard naming conventions, and display the recommended data set reference following the AAS guidelines, go to".

The complete list of ADS registered facilities is available at More information on the proposed dataset identifiers and how to specify them in an AASTeX manuscript, can be found at Chandra web site at: