ESDS Program

NASA Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project Data Use Policy

The NASA ESDIS Project has a free and open policy for data and information generated under NASA sponsorship. Non-NASA data is subject to the license arrangements of the sponsoring organization; users are encouraged to validate the source and associated use permissions. 

The following is a statement with regard to the access of NASA-sponsored data managed by NASA ESDIS: 

NASA ESDIS content, including but not limited to images, audio, video, and computer files used in the rendition of 3-dimensional models, such as texture maps and polygon data in any format, observation data, metadata, products, information, algorithms, including scientific source code, documentation, models, images, and research results, generally are not copyrighted. You may use this material for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits, computer graphical simulations and Internet Web pages. This general permission extends to personal Web pages.

NASA ESDIS content used in a factual manner that does not suggest or imply endorsement may be used without explicit permission. NASA should be acknowledged as the source of the material.

ESDIS content that is subject to usage restrictions, such as a license agreement, shall be labeled as such and the use of that data shall be in accordance with the designated license.
Unless the content is marked with a use restriction or license, data provided from a NASA led mission are licensed as Creative Commons Zero (CC0). There are no restrictions on the use of these data.

NASA occasionally uses copyrighted material by permission on its website. NASA’s use does not convey any rights to others to use the same material.  Those wishing to use copyrighted material must contact the copyright holder directly. 

NASA does not license the use of NASA materials or sign licensing agreements. The agency generally has no objection to the reproduction and use of these materials, subject to the following conditions:

  • NASA material may not be used to suggest or imply endorsement by NASA or by any NASA employee of a commercial product, service, or activity, or used in any manner that might mislead. Please see NASA Advertising Guidelines and Merchandising Guidelines for more information.
  • It is unlawful to falsely claim copyright or other rights in NASA material.
  • NASA shall in no way be liable for any costs, expenses, claims, or demands arising out of the use of NASA material by a recipient or a recipient's distributees.
  • NASA does not indemnify nor hold harmless users of NASA material, nor release such users from copyright infringement, nor grant exclusive use rights with respect to NASA material. 
  • NASA material is not protected by copyright within the United States, unless noted. If copyrighted, permission should be obtained from the copyright owner prior to use.  If not copyrighted, NASA material may be reproduced and distributed without further permission from NASA.

Citations and Acknowledgments

NASA should be acknowledged as the source of the material where applicable; Users are encouraged to follow the following instructions, as guidance may vary depending on the originating source and scientific discipline.   

NASA ESDIS has a free and open policy for data and information generated under NASA sponsorship. NASA data are freely accessible; however, when you publish these data or works based on the data, we request that you cite the datasets within the text of the publication and include a reference to them in your reference list. References to datasets should have enough detail to provide readers of your publication with the ability to obtain the datasets and conduct their own studies based on your work. For complete provenance and understanding of specifically which parts of data were used and how, it also may be necessary to describe in detail, within the body of the publication, exactly how the data were used.

Each discipline within Earth Science has its own unique approach to data. There are discipline-specific examples on how to cite and reference data and services. The links to this information are given below.

In addition, the following cross-DAAC services provided by NASA ESDIS may be cited as shown below.

International Directory Network (IDN)

Please refer to How to cite the International Directory Network for more information.

Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for Earth Observations (LANCE)

Please refer to LANCE Citation, Acknowledgements, and Disclaimer for more information.

Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS)

Please refer to the GIBS Data Use Policy and Acknowledgements for more information.

ESIP Guidelines for Referencing Data

The Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) provides a clear, concise guidelines document that may also help you in determining the format of the data set reference.

Open Data and the Importance of Data Citations

In addition to providing free and open access to data, NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program values transparency and reproducibility in scientific research, as do organizations with similar objectives such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), the Coalition on Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences (COPDESS), and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

As such, NASA recognizes the importance of authors using NASA-provided datasets to clearly indicate which datasets were used and provide access to these datasets to readers. While there are several ways of accomplishing this objective, citing datasets unambiguously is among the best.

NASA SMD will continue to take steps proactively to improve these open data and data citation policies to remain in line with the policies of our community. Our overarching objectives are to ensure that data from NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program can easily be accessed and that research based on NASA-supported datasets clearly cites the sources of these data.

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