A number of Australian astronomical survey datasets have been identified as preliminary contributors to Aus-VO.
In the spirit of other virtual observatory endeavours, each dataset will be prepared for Aus-VO by scientists who are expert in handling the data. These are the people best-placed to fully describe the data and provide rich interfaces for its access. In practice, this means the astronomers who acquired or archived the data will arrange its import into virtual observatory compliant form.
Aus-VO itself will be a loose coupling of the contributors, and in the early phase of the project will be charged with coordinating the initial archive-based projects, and with developing sophisticated and wide-ranging science test cases for consideration in future phases of the project.
A major function of the Virtual Observatory will be the ability to match up data on the same objects from disparate archive sources. A classic example is the task of finding optical counterparts to radio sources. Traditionally this has been done with simple statistical methods.
The MACHO project (Massive Compact Halo Objects) ran from June 1992 to December 1999, during which over 100,000 two-colour images were taken with the 50-inch Mount Stromlo Great Melbourne Telescope. These images yeilded light curves in two colours for over eight million stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and over ten million in the bulge of the Milky Way.
The HI Parkes All Sky Survey (HIPASS) is a survey for neutral atomic Hydrogen over the entire sky south of declination +25 degrees. HIPASS was accomplished with the Parkes 64m radiotelescope, operated by the CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility and comprises more than one terabyte of raw data acquired between 1997 and 2002.