ESDS Program

2023 NASA ESDS Program Highlights

Katie Baynes, NASA Earth Data Officer

Data are one of the foundations of scientific discovery. During the 2023 Fiscal Year (FY23; October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023), our talented Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program team provided more data to a broader base of data users, including new user communities, than ever before. ESDS accomplishments are making these data easier and more efficient to use and showing how the application of new technologies can uncover new science within these data. While all ESDS Program components contributed to our many successes, there are some specific accomplishments I want to highlight.

As Our Archive Grows, So Do Your Research Opportunities

More data in the NASA Earth observation archive provide more opportunities for using these data. In FY23, our total archive volume surpassed 100 PB. This growth is in line with projections for the continued exponential growth of this archive as new high-data-volume missions that are part of NASA's Earth System Observatory (ESO) are launched and their data are incorporated. This past fiscal year, we distributed more than 3.5 billion products to global data users.

Fiscal year (FY) data distribution by volume (green line in petabytes of data) and by number of data files (blue columns in billions of files) from FY2000 to FY2023. In FY23, the discipline with the greatest number of distributed files was land, followed by atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere; the discipline with the highest volume of distributed data was ocean, followed by land, atmosphere, and radiance. Credit: NASA ESDIS Project Metrics System (EMS).

Migrating this vast archive to the Earthdata Cloud remains a top program priority. Having these data in the cloud enhances the collaborative use of these data and enables researchers to work with vast quantities of data from different collections simultaneously—all without having to download the data. In 2023, NASA's Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) completed its data migration and the Level-1 and Atmosphere Archive and Distribution System DAAC (LAADS DAAC) completed migration of all the historical satellite data they distribute. At the end of FY23, 44.25 PB of our archive was cloud-based.

Along with more data, our users have more opportunities to receive the help they need using these data. With the addition of PO.DAAC and the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), all DAACs are now participating in the Earthdata Forum. The Forum provides a single location where questions can be submitted directly to data managers, data curators, and product designers. Forum input also gives the program a real-time resource for new data, products, and services that can better serve your needs.

The past year also saw many accomplishments by ESDS components. A significant achievement by our Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) was the publication of the first openly available geospatial foundation model trained with Earth observation satellite imagery, specifically NASA's Harmonized Landsat and Sentinel-2 (HLS) dataset. This work involved developers from IMPACT and IBM Research working in collaboration with Clark University's Center for Geospatial Analytics, ESA (European Space Agency), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The model, which is openly available at Hugging Face, has numerous potential research applications, including flood monitoring and burn scar mapping.

In addition, the Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP), a collaborative undertaking involving IMPACT and ESA, is being used to assess global biomass as part of the United Nations Global Stocktake. This work was featured at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December 2023.

Other key achievements by ESDS components this past year include work by the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) program coordinating the evaluation of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from Airbus U.S. to complement NASA's Earth science data archive and ongoing work by the Satellite Needs Working Group Management Office (SNWG-MO) leading NASA's review of the biennial SNWG survey of U.S. federal agencies to identify U.S. satellite needs and develop plans for meeting these needs.

Discovering sub-orbital data was made easier through the release of the Catalog of Archived Suborbital Earth Science Investigations (CASEI)—work for which our Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) received a NASA Silver Group Achievement Award. As a web-based, openly accessible user resource, CASEI is the most extensive search and discovery interface for learning more about NASA suborbital research.

Expanding ESDS Data User Communities and the Use of Open Data

The open provision of Earth science data is the cornerstone of ESDS operations, and NASA and other federal agencies joined the White House to designate the 2023 calendar year A Year of Open Science. Enhancements to NASA's Science Information Policy for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SPD-41a) further defined the agency's commitment to openly sharing scientific information produced from missions and research. This agency directive incorporates many long-standing ESDS policies for open-source software and the open provision of Earth science data.

SPD-41a also provides additional guidance on new requirements for an Open Science and Data Management Plan (OSDMP) for all Science Mission Directorate-funded scientific activities that generate data. These plans ensure that data products developed using NASA funding are fully and openly available. New Earthdata pages were created to provide guidance on creating these data management plans and provide additional information about these requirements.

Providing a Mission Data Processing System (MDPS) that ensures Earth science data from multiple missions are processed openly and available as early in a mission as feasible is the objective of the ESDS-led Multi-Mission Data Processing System Study. During 2023, open meetings were held to determine the optimal MDPS to meet this goal; a design review of the selected architecture is underway.

Throughout the 2023 calendar year, we continued our ongoing efforts to facilitate use of Earth science data in new communities. A key initiative is our Understanding Needs to Broaden Outside Use of NASA Data (UNBOUND) project. UNBOUND workshops match analysis and visualization practitioners in target communities with NASA data scientists and other experts to help identify barriers to using NASA data and expand the use of these data outside the agency’s research community. UNBOUND workshops in 2023 focused on Air Quality and Coastal Issues. A Tribal Food, Energy, and Water Priorities workshop series started in December 2023 and runs through the spring of 2024.

One final example, ESDS-managed data continue to play a vital role in the agency's Equity and Environmental Justice (EEJ) initiatives. An Earthdata article highlights the agency's ongoing commitment to these efforts and how openly-available data are furthering NASA-funded EEJ efforts in the U.S. Gulf South.

Building on ESDS Accomplishments in 2024

The ESDS team is moving forward on numerous projects that will continue to ensure that NASA Earth science data are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR). Work will continue on the Multi-Mission Data Processing System Study, with the final report of the Design Review and Architecture Study expected in September 2024 followed with a shift to system development.

Building on its geospatial foundation model achievement, IMPACT is working with IBM Research and other collaborators to develop a weather and climate foundation model, and enhancements to CASEI, MAAP, DAAC tools and applications for working with data, and other program initiatives are underway. You can keep up with all the latest developments by checking the Earthdata website and subscribing to our monthly Earthdata Discovery newsletter.

On behalf of the entire ESDS team, thank you for using NASA Earth science data and your input on how we can make the data, tools, and services we provide more useful for your work and research. For ESDS, every year is a year of open science.

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