HEALPix: A Framework for High-Resolution Discretization and Fast Analysis of Data Distributed on the Sphere
HEALPix-the Hierarchical Equal Area isoLatitude Pixelization-is a versatile structure for the pixelization of data on the sphere. An associated library of computational algorithms and visualization software supports fast scientific applications executable directly on discretized spherical maps generated from very large volumes of astronomical data. Originally developed to address the data processing and analysis needs of the present generation of cosmic microwave background experiments (e.g., BOOMERANG, WMAP), HEALPix can be expanded to meet many of the profound challenges that will arise in confrontation with the observational output of future missions and experiments, including, e.g., Planck, Herschel, SAFIR, and the Beyond Einstein inflation probe. In this paper we consider the requirements and implementation constraints on a framework that simultaneously enables an efficient discretization with associated hierarchical indexation and fast analysis/synthesis of functions defined on the sphere. We demonstrate how these are explicitly satisfied by HEALPix.