Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers

Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data

Board on Earth Sciences and Resources

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C 1998



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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C 1998

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 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. Support for this study was provided by Award No. NCC5-202 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06331-0 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu Cover: Collage of images from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). The globes show probable rainfall as indicated by the TRMM Microwave Imager. TRMM's precipitation radar gathered data on the amount and distribution of rainfall and clouds in Hurricane Bonnie during August 1998. The colors of the profile represent surface rainfall rates varying from 0 mm/hr (dark blue) to 50 mm/hr (dark red). Images courtesy of C. Morales, G. Shirah, R. Simmon, and M. Sutton, NASA GSFC. Copyright 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers COMMITTEE ON GEOPHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DATA FRANCIS BRETHERTON, Chair, University of Wisconsin, Madison VERA ALEXANDER, University of Alaska, Fairbanks (through 1997) DAVID GLOVER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts MALCOLM K. HUGHES, University of Arizona, Tucson (through 1997) J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California WILLIAM J. PARTON, JR., Colorado State University, Fort Collins JOYCE E. PENNER, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor THOMAS A. POTEMRA, The Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland (through 1997) SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of Arizona, Tucson ELLEN MOSLEY-THOMPSON, The Ohio State University, Columbus (through 1997) JOHN R. G. TOWNSHEND, University of Maryland, College Park CARL WUNSCH, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Senior Program Officer JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers PANELS TO REVIEW NASA'S DISTRIBUTED ACTIVE ARCHIVE CENTERS Alaska SAR Facility J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes KURT L. FEIGL, Groupe de Recherche de Geodesie Spatiale, Toulouse, France ANTHONY C. HEARN, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California MICHAEL S. LOUGHRIDGE, NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, Colorado JOHN M. MELACK, University of California, Santa Barbara ROBERT S. PRITCHARD, IceCasting, Inc., San Rafael, California EROS Data Center J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes RUTH S. DEFRIES, University of Maryland, College Park ALLEN M. HITTELMAN, NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, Colorado DAVID A. LANDGREBE, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana DAR ROBERTS, University of California, Santa Barbara Goddard Space Flight Center J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes SYDNEY LEVITUS, NOAA National Oceanographic Data Center, Silver Spring, Maryland RICHARD S. LINDZEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge TERENCE R. SMITH, University of California, Santa Barbara JOHN R. G. TOWNSHEND, University of Maryland, College Park

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Jet Propulsion Laboratory (PO.DAAC) J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes DAVID DEWITT, University of Wisconsin, Madison SYDNEY LEVITUS, NOAA National Oceanographic Data Center, Silver Spring, Maryland LYNNE D. TALLEY, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California Langley Research Center J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes C. BRUCE BAKER, NOAA National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina ROBERT D. CESS, State University of New York, Stony Brook RUSSELL R. DICKERSON, University of Maryland, College Park REX W. TRACY, GDE Systems, Inc., San Diego, California National Snow and Ice Data Center J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes VERA ALEXANDER, University of Alaska, Fairbanks KEITH E. LITTLEFIELD, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Fairfax, Virginia JOHN E. WALSH, University of Illinois, Urbana J. RONALD WILSON, Marine Environmental Data Service (retired), Manotick, Ontario Oak Ridge National Laboratory J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FERRIS WEBSTER, Vice Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes KENNETH D. DAVIDSON, NOAA National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina BETH H. DRIVER, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Chantilly, Virginia WILLIAM J. PARTON, JR., Colorado State University, Fort Collins ERIC T. SUNDQUIST, U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES J. FREEMAN GILBERT, Chair, University of California, San Diego KENNETH I. DAUGHERTY, Marconi Information Systems, Reston, Virginia RICHARD S. FISKE, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. JAMES M. FUNK, Shell Continental Companies, Houston, Texas WILLIAM L. GRAF, Arizona State University, Tempe CHARLES G. GROAT, University of Texas, El Paso (through November 1998) DONALD C. HANEY, Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington RAYMOND JEANLOZ, University of California, Berkeley SUSAN M. KIDWELL, University of Chicago, Illinois SUSAN KIEFFER, Kieffer & Woo, Inc., Palgrave, Ontario PAMELA LUTTRELL, Mobil Corporation, Dallas, Texas J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California ALEXANDRA NAVROTSKY, University of California, Davis DIANNE R. NIELSON, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Salt Lake City JILL D. PASTERIS, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri EDWARD C. ROY, JR., Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas EDWARD M. STOLPER, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena MILTON H. WARD, Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, Englewood, Colorado National Research Council Staff CRAIG M. SCHIFFRIES, Director ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Senior Program Officer WILLIAM E. BENSON, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer TAMARA L. DICKINSON, Senior Program Officer THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Senior Program Officer VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative Assistant JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant JUDITH L. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle B. JOHN GARRICK, PLG, Inc., Newport Beach, California THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts JUDITH E. McDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts RICHARD A. MESERVE, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C. HUGH C. MORRIS, Canadian Global Change Program, Delta, British Columbia RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California National Research Council Staff ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Assistant Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers 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. Bruce Alberts 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 achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf 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. Kenneth I. Shine 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. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making their published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Fakhri A. Bazzaz, Harvard University; Ingrid C. Burke, Colorado State University; William L. Chameides, Georgia Institute of Technology; Charles S. Cox, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Robert E. Dickinson, University of Arizona; Timothy H. Dixon, University of Miami; Jeff Dozier, University of California, Santa Barbara; Edward A. Frieman, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University; Eric S. Kasischke, ERIM; Thomas F. Malone, North Carolina State University (retired); Ichtiaque Rasool, International Consultant; Robert H. Stewart, Texas A&M University; Edwin D. Waddington, University of Washington; Wilford F. Weeks, University of Alaska (emeritus); Carol Wessman, University of Colorado; and Mary Lou Zoback, U.S. Geological Survey. Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Preface The long-term health of data centers depends on their ability to keep pace with technological advances that improve user services and increase the long-term utility of the data, and to respond to the evolving needs of their user communities. Consequently, it is important for data centers to be reviewed externally on a periodic basis. This report, which was requested by Robert Price, then associate director of Goddard for Mission to Planet Earth (now the Earth Science Enterprise), is the first such assessment of seven Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs). The DAACs, which manage a wide variety of satellite and in situ measurements associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), are undergoing a recertification process with the overall goal of improving their operations. NASA's recertification process will draw upon several inputs, including the results of external peer review, which are reported here. At the end of the process, NASA management will determine whether to recertify, place on probation, or close individual DAACs. The National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data (CGED) approached the review process as it has for other data center reviews since it was assigned oversight of U.S. World Data Centers in 1967. The simultaneous review of seven DAACs is a daunting task, so the CGED divided the review into two stages. In the first stage, two CGED members visited each DAAC informally to identify key issues. Based on these visits, the committee defined review criteria, which focus on how well the DAACs serve their scientific user communities. The formal site visits, which were conducted by seven separately appointed panels, composed the second stage of the review. The formal site visits were held on the following dates:

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers DAAC Host Institution Scientific Specialty Site Visit Date Goddard Space Flight Center Langley Research Center EROS Data Center Alaska SAR Facility Jet Propulsion Laboratory National Snow and Ice Data Center Oak Ridge National Laboratory Atmospheric processes Atmospheric chemistry Land processes Sea ice, polar processes Ocean circulation Snow and ice, cryosphere Biogeochemical processes October 20–21, 1997 November 18–19, 1997 November 24–25, 1997 December 18–19, 1997 January 8–9, 1998 March 4–5, 1998 March 19–20, 1998 At NASA's request, the DAAC located at the Consortium for Integrated Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) was not reviewed. Each site visit panel was composed of approximately six individuals. For consistency, the chair and vice chair were the same for each visit. Those individuals were chosen for their links with the CGED and their familiarity with data center reviews. The rest of the panel was composed of two scientists, who use or collect the types of data held by the DAAC; one representative of a non-NASA scientific data center, familiar with data center operations; and one computer scientist or systems engineer, with experience in end-to-end system management and a knowledge of networks, computer architecture, and the types and capability of computer equipment available for managing large data sets. In addition, David Glover, who chaired NASA's EOSDIS Panel at the time of the review, attended all the site visits as an observer. For each review, the panel followed the same agenda and received similar briefing materials from the DAAC. The briefing materials included the DAAC's annual work plan, including staffing and budget projections; membership list and meeting minutes of the DAAC's User Working Group; and in most cases, written responses to the criteria for review. In addition, two members of each panel examined the DAAC's Web site, accessed data of interest to their own research, and evaluated issues such as documentation, formats, ease of use, and the ability of User Services to answer questions. As a result, the site visits were conducted at approximately the same level of detail, yielding a fair and balanced picture of the DAACs. The individual DAAC reports, however, vary significantly in emphasis, which is unavoidable given the different backgrounds and personalities of the authoring panels. To place the panels' reports within the broader EOSDIS context, the CGED solicited input from a variety of sources, including the Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project, the EOSDIS Core System (ECS) developers, and users of EOSDIS data. A two-day interview with ESDIS Project man-

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers agers focused on (1) ESDIS expectations of the DAACs; (2) DAAC expectations of ESDIS, based on issues identified during the informal CGED visits to the DAACs; and (3) other issues raised by previous NRC reports, particularly the Zraket panel report (NRC, 1994). Interviews with the ECS developers (and Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL] developers for the Alaska Synthetic Aperture Radar [SAR] Facility DAAC) were conducted by subpanels, which included the chair and vice chair of the panels and a computer scientist. Finally, an e-mail survey of users was sent to the EOS Investigators Working Group and subsequently forwarded to a broader audience. Nearly 400 users responded. Rigorous statistical analysis of this unscientific survey is not justified, but general trends and comments from individuals helped illustrate the broad range of experiences that users have had with the DAACs. The results of these interviews, the user survey, and the panel reports formed the basis for the overall conclusions and recommendations of this report. It is important to note that plans for EOSDIS evolved significantly during the course of the CGED review. For example, the launch data of the EOS AM-1 platform slipped by at least six months, giving the DAACs more time to prepare for the data streams. On the other hand, additional delays in the ECS are causing the DAACs and EOS science and instrument teams to resort to emergency backup plans for processing the data. These plans are evolving on almost a daily basis. This report attempts to provide a snapshot of the DAAC system as it existed in September 1998. The panel reports were updated through e-mail correspondence with the DAAC managers and by an additional site visit to the first DAAC visited (Goddard Space Flight Center). Similarly, the overview chapters were written to account for recent developments in EOSDIS. The committee believes that the resulting report can be used as a baseline for future assessments of the health of the DAAC system or for more focused reviews of individual DAACs. The committee and its panels wish to acknowledge the many individuals who provided input to this report. They include the current and past DAAC managers (Paul Chan, Donald Collins, Roy Dunkum, Craig Lingle, Richard McGinnis, Lyndon Oleson, Larry Voorhees, Carl Wales, and Ron Weaver) and staff, whose forthright participation in the review permitted the panels to examine weaknesses as well as strengths of DAAC operations. Representatives of the DAACs' host institutions helped the panels identify distinctions between DAACs located within a university and those located within a NASA or non-NASA government facility. Discussions with members of the User Working Groups, science teams, system developers, and ESDIS management provided the panels with a more complete view of the DAACs as part of an integrated EOSDIS. The nearly 400 survey respondents from the United States and abroad gave the committee a better sense of users' overall satisfaction with the DAACs and patterns of DAAC usage.

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers The committee and its panels thank the staff of the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources of the National Research Council, especially Jenny Estep, for helping very effectively with the unusually complex logistics of innumerable meetings and site visits. Finally, we wish to express particular appreciation to the indefatigable study director, Anne Linn, for her invaluable guidance through the review process, and for her very hard work during the production of this report. The combination of her superb sense of organization, insight, determination, and patience contributed the necessary ingredients for the successful completion of this daunting task. Francis Bretherton CHAIR, CGED Bernard Minster CHAIR, SITE VISIT PANELS

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   9     Background   9     Role of the DAACs in EOSDIS   11     Evolution of EOSDIS   20     Organization of Report   24 2   OVERVIEW OF THE DAAC SYSTEM   27     What Is a DAAC? Why a System?   27     The Need for Adaptability   32     DAACs and Their Users   34     Data Management: Soup to Nuts   41     The Role of NASA   47     Other Issues   49     Conclusions   52 3   GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER DAAC   53     Abstract   53     Introduction   54     Holdings   54     Users   60     Technology   62     Management   64     GSFC DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   67     Summary   68

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers 4   LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER DAAC   71     Abstract   71     Introduction   72     Holdings   72     Users   79     Technology   82     Management   85     LARC DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   87     Summary   88 5   EROS DATA CENTER DAAC   91     Abstract   91     Introduction   92     Holdings   93     Users   97     Technology   101     Management   103     EDC DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   105     Summary   106 6   ALASKA SAR FACILITY DAAC   109     Abstract   109     Introduction   110     Holdings   111     Users   116     Technology   120     Management   123     ASF DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   125     Summary   128 7   PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY DAAC   131     Abstract   131     Introduction   132     Holdings   133     Users   136     Technology   138     Management   140     PO.DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   143     Summary   144

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Review of NASA'S Distributed Active Archive Centers 8   NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER DAAC   147     Abstract   147     Introduction   148     Holdings   149     Users   152     Technology   156     Management   158     NSIDC DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   161     Summary   163 9   OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY DAAC   165     Abstract   165     Introduction   166     Holdings   167     Users   172     Technology   174     Management   175     ORNL DAAC and the Earth Science Enterprise   179     Summary   180     AFTERWORD   183     REFERENCES   185     APPENDIXES   187     Appendix A DAAC Review Agenda   189     Appendix B Criteria for Review   191     Appendix C CGED Interview with ESDIS (September 1997)   195     Appendix D User Survey   215     Acronyms   231

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