FITS file: What you need to know about the file format

by Corinna

A FITS file is a format that is primarily used for the permanent archiving of data sets in the astronomical field.

FITS file: Suitable software required to open

The FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) file format is used to archive astronomical data such as observation diaries or images from space telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

  • The files can theoretically be opened with common image viewing and editing programs such as GIMP. As they often contain overly complex tables and the like, the display may be incorrect or incomplete.
  • However, these programs are usually sufficient for private space photography. You only need to open them by double-clicking or directly within the program.
  • If you want to open more complex data records, we recommend using software developed by the space organizations. These use specially developed codes that enable all existing data records to be displayed.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, for example, are involved with others in the development of FITS Liberator, which you can use free of charge. You can also use SAOImageDS9 from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • These programs are specially tailored to FITS files. They allow access to all data of the respective file.

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