4.2 Obtaining STScI Software

Software that supports HST is distributed through the conda package and environment management tool. Conda facilitates the installation and updating of software and dependencies in self-contained environments on a single computer. Conda channels are the paths that conda uses to obtain software packages.

AstroConda is a conda channel maintained by STScI, and is the source for all STScI supported software. Please visit the AstroConda documentation (https://astroconda.readthedocs.io/en/latest/) for the latest information regarding installation and updates. In addition to HST-specific software, AstroConda also includes the Astropy project, which is a well-developed library of astronomy packages.

Users are advised to use Python 3 with STScI software for the most accurate results. Some packages may not be available or may produce unexpected results with earlier versions of Python.

Users may also wish to install some Python software using pip. For example, astroquery maintains a "bleeding edge" version of continuous releases through pip, while the conda version of astroquery is a tagged release version. Please refer to the installation instructions for specific Python modules for more information regarding any differences between conda and pip installations.

4.2.1 GitHub

All publicly available software from STScI is hosted on GitHub. GitHub is a "social coding" platform that facilitates version control and issue reporting for STScI software. Users who encounter problems with specific code packages are encouraged to review the open issues on the appropriate GitHub repository, and to open new issues to notify STScI about previously unknown bugs. Alternatively, users may also contact the HST Help desk for bug reporting and software assistance. Release notes for new versions of software and links to documentation may also be found in the GitHub repositories. The spacetelescope organization on GitHub contains all STScI-affiliated repositories and may be found at https://github.com/spacetelescope/.

Users unfamiliar with GitHub may find it intimidating at first. The HST Help Desk is prepared to offer assistance with software bugs and other related issues to users who prefer to not use GitHub.