issues involved.1 Here we focus more directly on the antecedents and history of the data and information system associated with the EOS.

In response to a “perception that data problems were pervasive throughout the space sciences,” the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council formed the Committee on Data Management and Computation (CODMAC). In its first report this committee observed that the “majority of the current data problems are not due to technological barriers. ”2 It cited problems arising from lack of scientific involvement in data system planning; inadequate funding; inadequate scientific oversight of data operations; and a long list of problems in data processing, distribution, retrieval, and archiving. After considering a number of case studies, CODMAC proposed a number of principles to guide data management, including active scientific involvement throughout data system planning and operations and a deliberate focus on users ' needs. The committee also recommended that data analysis funds should be adequate and protected against reprogramming owing to delays and cost overruns.

The growing realization that human activities might be inducing global-scale change and the tremendous scientific opportunities evident in the accelerating capabilities for observation from space both stimulated new and adventuresome thinking about Earth observations in the early 1980s. In response to these new ideas, NASA appointed the Science and Mission Requirements Group for EOS and began to plan a global space-based observing system that would create a revolution in Earth science and more comprehensive understanding of the planet and its subsystems. Among its recommendations, the Requirements Group urged that observations of the Earth be continued and expanded; that a data system providing ready and integrated access to past, present, and future data be developed; and that research in understanding the data be supported.3

Recognizing the importance of the associated data system, the scientists and program managers involved with the fledgling EOS assembled the Data Panel to develop a rationale and recommendations for planning, implementing, and operating the EOS Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The report of the Data Panel amplified the CODMAC themes and provided a detailed examination of issues that had to be resolved for EOS and EOSDIS to be successful:4

  • Involving scientists directly and intimately in the planning and oversight of operations of EOSDIS.

  • Creating a distributed system to stimulate creativity, enable prototypes, and facilitate evolution.

  • Enabling scientists to interact with a wide range of datasets that are and will be widely dispersed.

  • Creating the flexibility to adapt readily to rapid advances in electronic communications, networks, and computing capabilities.

  • Ensuring that archiving approaches and facilities are both responsive and reliable.

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