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FITS files:

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 analysis software.

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 HEASARC, or visit the official NASA FITS Support Office for more detailed information.

 
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