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Critical issues in NASA Information Systems Final Report to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by the Committee on NASA Information Systems Board on Telecon~munications-Computer Applications Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. June 1 987
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors, according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achieve- ments of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This is a final report of work supported by Contract No. NASW-4124 between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Academy of Sciences. This document available from: Board on Telecommunications and Computer Applications Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America
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COMMITTEE ON NASA INFORMATION SYSTEMS ADRIAN MCDONOUGH (Chairman) Professor of Management and Decision Sciences (Retired) The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania EDWARD B. ALTMAN Vice President, Data Systems Division and Kingston Site Genera] Manager IBM Corporation G. ROBINSON BARKER Director, Commercial Applications SPOT Image Corporation DAVID J. FARBER Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Delaware RICHARD HANSEN Colonel, USA (Retired) ROY JENNE Manager, Data Support Section National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff Richard B. Marsten Executive Director John Burton Stueve, Study Director Stephanie M. White, Administrative Assistant · · ~ CHRISTIAN J. JOHANNSEN Director, Agricultural Data Network Purdue University PHILIP N. PAPACCIO Vice President & Genera] Manager System Development Division TRW Defense Systems Group K. SAM SHANMUGAN J. L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Kansas RAYMOND WALKER Research Geophysicist University of California at Los AngeJes DANIEL J. FINK (Ex officio) President D. J. Fink Associates, Inc.
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BOARD ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS DANIEL J. FINK (Chairman) President D. ~ e Fink Associates, Inc. DANIEL BELL Professor of Social Sciences Harvard University HERBERT D. BENINGTON Director of Planning System Development Corporation CARL J. CONTI Vice President & Group Executive Information Systems & Storage Group IBM Corporation AND COMPUTER APPLICATIONS JOHN C. McDONALD Vice President, Chief Scientist Continental Telecommunications, Inc. ALAN J. PERLIS Professor of Computer Science Yale University HENRY M. RIVERA Partner Dow, Lohnes & Albertson MISCHA SCHWARTZ Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Columbia University ANTHONY J. DeMARIA IVAN SELIN Assistant Director of Research for Chairman of the Board Electronics and Electro-Optics American Management Systems, Inc Technology United Technologies Research Center DAVID J. FARBER Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Deb aware GEORGE GERBNER Professor and Dean, The Annenberg School of Communications University of Pennsylvania DONALD M. KUYPER Group Vice President Business Service GTE Telephone Operating Group Staff Richard B. Marsten, Executive Director John Burton Stueve, Study Director Karen Laughlin, Administrative Coordinator Stephanie White, Administrative Assistant Lois A. Leak, Administrative Secretary 1V CHARLES W. STEPHENS Vice President and Deputy General Manager (Retired) TRW Electronics & Defense Sector ERIC E. SUMNER Vice President, Operations Systems and Network Planning AT&T Bell Laboratories - GEORGE L. TURIN Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science University of California-Berkeley KEITH W. UNCAPHER Executive Director USC Information Sciences Institute i and Associate Dean, School of Engineering University of Southern California
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PREFACE . This report concludes a study that was requested in late 1985 by the Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In early 1986 the National Research Council's Board on Telecommunications and Computer Applications established a Committee on NASA Information Systems to perform the requested study. The original charge to the Committee on NASA Information Systems is given in the Statement of Task on page vii of this report. The Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications provided further guidance on April 2, 1986, during the Committee's inaugural meeting. From this emerged a corollary tasking which the Committee interpreted and applied as follows: The Committee should look beyond the technical aspects of this study and identify the critical issues affecting how NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA) should organize its information systems functions and programs to support space science and applications. The Committee made every effort to respond to this verbal tasking without letting its effort devolve into a management review. Al though no records were kept of the time spent on the technical or management portions of the study, it is cd ear that management-related matters occupied more time during the Committee's deliberations--and resulted in more heated debate--than did those related to interoperability, technology, or user requirements. The Committee's inaugural meeting was held on April ~ and 2, 1986, in Washington, D.C. It received briefings from NASA Headquarters, Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) personnel on current and future data management activies, including some rather detailed expositions on cataloging, data format standards, and the technical aspects of interoperabiJity. In addition, the Committee received a briefing and verbal guidance from the Associate Administrator. The second meeting was held on May 26-2S, 1986, in Pasadena, California, hosted by the JPL, a two-and-one-half day meeting. The principal focus was on JPE's science and information systems programs, v
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al though some time was also spent on GSFC's emerging Earth Observing System (EOS) program. A special, one-day meeting was convened on June 12, 1986. This gave the Committee the opportunity to receive briefings from the NASA Office of Space Tracking and Data Systems (OSTDS) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with several other NASA Headquarters and GSFC briefings on significant programs and activities. The Committee held a one-week workshop the week of July 13, 1986, in Snowmass, Colorado, to begin work on this report. In addition, the Chairman of NASA's Committee on Earth System Sciences provided a briefing that stressed the increasing interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of the requirements being imposed by the science community. The wrap-up meeting was held on August 26-27, 1986, in Washington, D.C. An informal progress report was given to the Associate Administrator on September 3, 1986. During this study, the Committee reviewed OSSA's charter, organiza- tion, activities, and its derived set of information systems programs that require funding and man-power resources. The Committee recognizes that the OSSA charter is based on the Space Act of 195S, as amended, which estab- lished NASA. Each of the programs and functions supported within OSSA likewise can be traced to the charter. This represents both a charter and a mandate to promote the space science and applications mission. Some of the Committee's findings and recommendations were reached independently in earlier reports from other high-1eve] committees of the National Research Council and NASA. They are included in this report because the Committee thinks they are important and need further attention by NASA and OSSA. Although considerable ground was covered by the Committee, this could not be an in-depth study, due to the relatively short time available. In addition, the committee found that some key personnel could not be available for our scheduled meetings due to the press of other business, stemming mainly from loss of the Challenger space shuttle and the budget problems that followed in the wake of the Gramm-Rubman Act. Any fol~ow-on study will have to dig much deeper into the underlying aspects of the issues, and sufficient time should be allocated for such an effort. During the course of this study, the Committee received assistance from a number of people at NASA Headquarters, GSFC, and JPL. ~ take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who helped us. Thanks are also due to the members of the Board who contributed to the development of a fine] structure for this report. ~ particularly want to express my appreciation to Richard B. Marsten and Burton Stueve for their assistance throughout the study and especially their work in preparing this-report for publication. We also thank Ms. Stephanie White for her assistance during the July workshop and the August wrap-up meeting. V1
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Finally, ~ wish to give special thanks to the members of the Committee for their arduous and painstaking study of the complex and sensitive matters redated to the issues covered in this report. ADRIAN M. McDONOUGH Chairman · — V1 1
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STATEMENT OF TASK The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed a globally-distributed complex of earth resources data bases since Landsat ~ was launched in 1972. NASA's current program and plans for the future envision great growth in the number and extent of such data bases. The NASA program includes the development of a Global Resources Information Database (GRID) jointly with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and eventual incorporation of the GRID into a global resources information system. Work has begun on pilot information systems in clim- fi rat components to support system. ._.. ..__ ma_.. . ~ ate, ocean, planetary, and land data as the first components to support a variety of extant, geographically dispersed data bases in support of a future earth observing platform. A major future activity will be the development of information systems to support multidisciplinary research activities based on data acquired by the Space Station complex and other space-based and terrestrial sources. The Committee's initial task will be to identify critical issues on which NASA must act to ensure that its information systems activities lead to interoperabJe systems with a minimum of standardization, while provid- ing for adaptability and growth. In its review, the Committee wild com- ment on aspects of data base design, structure, organization, and opera- tion that could affect interoperabiJity and the need for standards. The Committee wild review NASA's existing and planned data bases in science and in applications, including pilot systems, and it will review NASA's plans for continuing data base development and the status of other information systems and data bases. In considering the requirements for interoperability and standardiza- tion of data base characteristics, the standardization criteria for inter- operability will be kept to the minimum necessary to accommodate the rapid and continuing growth of data base systems. Accordingly, the Committee wild consider data base sensitivity and adaptability to changes, including those that could be introduced by possible Space Station data acquisition techniques. This wild include identification of data bases or sets that appear to be common to a wide variety of uses and that therefore must be used with many different companion data sets. March 15, 1986 · · . vat ~ ~
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CRITICAL ISSUES IN NASA INFORMATION SYSTEMS TABLE OF CONTENTS BACKGROUND. . . Charge to the Committee . . . . . . . . The Fundamental Issue . . . . . . . . . OSSA's Charter and Organization . . . . . . . . Quantification of OSSA's Data Management Problem. II. SUMMARY OF ISSUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Fundamental Issue: Reprise. . . . . . . . . . . . . Introduction to Issue #1 - Centralization of Management Functions Introduction to Issue #2 - Interoperability . . . . . . . Introduction to Issue #3 - User Involvement . . . . . . . Introduction to Issue #4 - Information Systems Technology III. CENTRALIZATION OF MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS. . . . . . . . . . . The Present Role of the Information Systems Office. . . . . Philosophical Focus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Need for a NASA Information Systems Focal Point . . . . Structural Focus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Long-Range Planning for Information Systems Activities. . . Information Systems Research and Development (R&D). . . . . Management of Information Systems "Build-or-Buy" Decisions. Procurement, Acquisition, and Evaluation of Information Systems Development of Information Systems Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . — IV. INTEROPERABILITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An Earth System Sciences Conceptual Mode] . . . Interconnections and Interoperability of Information Systems. The Department of Defense (DoD) Experience. . . . Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Architecture . A Procurement Strategy to Foster Interoperability 1X 1 2 2 7 10 10 11 13 15 16 1 7 18 18 19 19 20 21 22 22 23 . . 25 25 . 26 29 30 . 33
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