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Remote Planning with CDS

During the course of the CDS mission, science planning has predominantly required the planner to be located at Goddard or RAL. From 2007 the CDS team have decided to allow science planning to be performed by scientists at their home institutes and this document describes how to set up software and databases to allow this. The remote scientist will need to have some experience of CDS planning, however, and to have attended a training course at RAL or Goddard.


The remote planner must have the following Solarsoft directories on their local machine:


If you already analyse CDS data through Solarsoft then you will already have the first two directories. Note that the fourth directory is not in the main Solarsoft tree, but in the Solarsoft database tree (SSWDB).

It is important that these directories be up-to-date before you start planning. If you have regular updates through a cron-job then this is fine, otherwise you should manually update. To check that you have up-to-date databases, start up Solarsoft and call "mk_plan". If you see today's CDS plan on the timeline, then your database is up-to-date.

Setting up a user database

Shared Solarsoft distribution

If you are using a Solarsoft distribution shared amongst other users, then you will probably not have write access to the Solarsoft databases and so will not be able to write a CDS plan. To get around this, do:

> cp -r $SDB/soho/cds/data/plan/database/* /home/user/cds_database

which copies the necessary database directories into cds_database in the user's home directory.

Now go to your file, and add the line:


Note: for Hinode/EIS users, you may already have ZDBASE_USER defined. If this is the case, then you can simply concatenate directories as follows:


WARNING: Make sure to do a fresh copy of the Solarsoft databases each day that you do planning.

Private Solarsoft distribution

If you have a private Solarsoft distribution, then you can simply write to the official database in Solarsoft. However, make sure you complete and export your CDS plan before doing an update to Solarsoft, otherwise you will lose the plan you have created.

Checking everything works

Enter Solarsoft IDL. If you set up ZDBASE_USER above, then you will need to do:

IDL> s=fix_zdbase(/user)

which points IDL at your personal copy of the database.

You are then ready to start the planning software:

IDL> mk_plan

To check that your databases are up-to-date, look for the most recent plan in the mk_plan graphics window. You should see today's plan (which was planned yesterday). If not, then your databases are probably not up-to-date and you should do a manual update.

Accessing the most recent solar images

Recent solar images (e.g., from SOHO) can be accessed over the internet by using the tool "show_synop" in Solarsoft. It is called as:

IDL> show_synop

and a widget will pop up that allows you to find and download recent images. If you use a proxy server (which is typical at large institutes), then it will be necessary to set the environment variable "http_proxy" to the address of the server. E.g.,

IDL> setenv,'http_proxy='

is used at RAL.

Checking mail

E-mails for the CDS planner can be accessed through Google mail. The user name is "cdsplanner" and the password will be supplied to the remote planner by the RAL CDS team. It is important to check the planner mail in order to receive pointing information for JOPs or campaigns, and receive technical information from the instrument team.

When you have completed the plan...

When the plan is completed, save it and then click on Operations -> XPORT - Export plans. Make sure the dates and times in the boxes completely span the planning period, click on 'Preview Plans' and ensure that everything you have planned is in the displayed window. Once you are happy, click on 'Export Now' and the plan will be exported as a text file to the Export Directory.

The export text file should then be sent to cds.operations -at-, copied to cdsplanner -at-

A short text description of the file contents should be sent to soc -at-, copied to cdsplanner -at-


From the CDS Operations Management Team in the Space Science & Technology Department at CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Site maintained by John Rainnie.
Last revised onMonday (11/Feb/2008) at 11:11 .