The ability to read complicated Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) files in MATLAB was required for analyzing data from the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) cryovac test campaign for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project.

This software was written to fill that specific need, but is more generally applicable.

FITS is the predominant file format for storing image data from astronomical telescopes, including ground test campaigns. This software provides an object-oriented interface for easily reading and writing FITS files in the MATLAB computing environment, and allows the user to more easily manipulate more complicated aspects of the standard, including header data and multiple header data units (HDUs).

Image data from the ISIM of the JWST is encoded in the FITS format. Portions of this data are analyzed using software written in MATLAB. While MATLAB does provide both high- and low-level interfaces for reading files in the FITS file format, those interfaces do not present a unified method for reading and writing header data and multiple header-data units. This software provides the user with a convenient interface for manipulating these more complicated aspects of the FITS file format in the MATLAB programming language.

This work was done by Thomas Zielinski of Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Scott Leonardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GSC-17165-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.