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The casacore package contains the core libraries of the old AIPS++/CASA package. This split was made to get a better separation of core libraries and applications. CASA is now built on top of casacore.

The system consists of a set of layered libraries (packages) which can be seen best on the Modules page.
Included is a library (using Boost-Python) to convert the basic casacore types (e.g., Array, Record) to and from python. Build of this library is optional.
This library is used in the package python-casacore (previously pyrap) that offers a high level Python binding to the casacore functionality. The documentation of the python-casacore packages can be found here.

The main features of AIPS++/CASA are:

Casacore notes describe some parts of the system in more detail.

Casacore consists of the following subpackages:

casa Core modules: N-dim arrays, quanta, OS, IO, logging, and various other classes.
scimath Mathematical modules N-dim functionals, linear/non-linear fitting, and miscellaneous.
tables Database-like tables with advanced query language (TaQL).
measures Quantities with references frames and their persistency.
lattices Memory- or disk-based N-dim arrays (lattices) with masking, regions, expressions, and math.
fits A C++ interface on top of cfitsio.
ms The data format for visibility data as described in the MeasurementSet definition.
derivedmscal Derived MeasurementSet quantities (like hourangle) that can be used as virtual table columns or as TaQL user defined functions.
meas TaQL user defined functions to handle measures. It supports all conversions for epochs, positions, and directions.
msfits Mapping of MeasurementSets to/from FITS.
coordinates Coordinates for astronomical images.
images N-dim images with masks, coordinates, and history.
python N-dim python converters for basic casacore data types.

Detailed build instructions are given on the casacore pages. It makes it possible to build selective parts of casacore.
When using a specific casacore package, it is useful to know the package dependencies when linking a program. They are as follows:

scimath casa
tables casa
measures tables scimath casa
lattices tables scimath casa
fits measures tables scimath casa cfitsio
ms measures tables scimath casa
derivedmscal measures tables scimath casa
meas measures tables scimath casa
msfits ms fits measures tables scimath casa cfitsio
coordinates fits measures tables scimath casa wcslib cfitsio
images lattices coordinates fits measures tables scimath casa mirlib wcslib cfitsio
python casa boost-python python numpy

mirlib is distributed and built as part of casacore. wcslib and cfitsio are external packages that have to be installed before building all of casacore. Boost-Python is required when building libcasa_python.