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FITS stands for `Flexible Image Transport System' and is the data format
most commonly used within the international astronomical community. FITS
was originally developed in the late 1970's as an archive and data
interchange format, but in the past decade it has also come into wide use
as an on-line file format that can be directly read and written by data
FITS is much more than just another image format (such as jpg or gif) and
is primarily designed to store scientific data sets consisting of
multidimensional arrays (1-D spectra, 2-D images or 3-D data cubes) and
2-dimensional tables containing rows and columns of data. A single FITS
file can contain multiple data sets, each in a separate `extension'.
An overview of the structure of FITS files can be obtained from the
or visit the official NASA FITS Support
Office for more detailed