From Petabytes to Puppies

The Exhibit Hall at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting is the perfect location to explore the more than 100 petabytes of NASA Earth science data—and pet a puppy.

One highlight of attending the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting is access to the Exhibit Hall. This year, 279 exhibitors are showcasing new instruments, academic degree programs, and opportunities to work for environmental organizations and federal agencies. And there’s a puppy play zone.

The NASA Booth, however, is the big dog on the block. Literally. At 3,600 square feet, this is the largest exhibit NASA has sent to the meeting and the largest single exhibit at AGU. The booth is a scene of controlled chaos that can feel like the holiday rush at a major department store in the days before the internet.

For members of NASA's Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program and representatives from NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), working the Earth science data table at the booth is an invaluable opportunity to hear directly from data users about their wants, needs, and concerns.

Attendees have questions about using the more than 100 petabytes of openly available NASA Earth science data, and NASA team members from across the agency have answers or know where to get answers. Working a shift (or two, or three) at the Earth science data table is both exhausting and highly rewarding. Along with the expected questions (Where do I get a NASA Science calendar? At the door to the Exhibit Hall this year—or you can download a PDF of the calendar), many questions relate to specific data uses, sources, and products.

Dana Shum, a NASA Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project software engineer, helps a NASA Booth visitor with a data question.

While data questions can be submitted anytime using the Contact Us button at the bottom of Earthdata website pages or through the Earthdata Forum, the NASA Booth is an opportunity to meet the people behind NASA Earth science data and pose detailed questions directly to data creators, managers, and experts.

A two-hour data table shift, for example, featured multiple questions about flood data and how to use the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), inquiries about NASA's upcoming Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission (PACE, scheduled for launch in February 2024), and appreciation for analysis-ready data products like those created by NASA's Observational Products for End-Users from Remote Sensing Analysis (OPERA) project. Graduate students from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi were interested in the status of the NASA/Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar mission (NISAR, scheduled for launch in 2024), while attendees from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Michigan needed help finding data using Earthdata Search and creating data animations using NASA Worldview. Time passes quickly at the NASA Booth.

You have questions about NASA Earth science data, and ESDS, DAAC, and other team members are ready, willing, and able to answer them—in the NASA Booth at the AGU Fall Meeting Exhibit Hall or anytime through the Earthdata website or the Earthdata Forum. And if the chaotic pace of the AGU Exhibit Hall starts to get to you, there’s always the puppy play zone.

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