In pursuit of its exploration mission, NASA has generated, collected and compiled vast amounts of digitized data that has helped us better understand Earth, other planets in our solar system, and the depths of space through the eyes of satellites, telescopes, robots, and through the cameras of astronauts. With each passing decade, advances in technology made images clearer, the information coming back from space richer, and the world smaller.
NASA has a long history of placing large amounts of data online for members of the public to use. Since NASA’s inception, the agency has publicly archived all of its data received from spacecraft projects, including over 4TB of new Earth Science data each day, and continues to make a large amount of this raw data open for public exploration.
NASA’s commitment to open data expands the audience for the vast body of knowledge captured in nearly 100 years of U.S. aeronautics and space data. Developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, citizen scientists and many others can contribute directly to the exploration of space and Earth by helping to create new ways of looking at this data. Additionally, by releasing information about administrative and procedural information within NASA, researchers and analysts can understand more about the inner-workings of NASA as well as allow our own employees to better understand other functions of our Agency.
NASA has a lot of data. For example, just one mission – the NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) – has stored more then 3 petabytes of data since 2005 in a geographically distributed mass storage system. This is the same amount as the estimated total data size of the Library of Congress. EOSDIS is now downloading more than 7,000 GB a week.
As part of the Open Government Initiative, the agency is working to improve accessibility to this data and incentivizing the use of government data by citizens. In 2010, NASA provided three new datasets and 18 other tools, widgets and catalogs to Data.gov – but that was just a start.
To address the ever-increasing amount of tools and data catalogs that are publicly available on NASA’s many websites, we have created this directory of publicly available datasets. The Open Data project, which is part of the NASA Open Government Initiative, is intended to improve access to NASA data. This open data catalog is a continually-growing listing of publicly available NASA datasets and includes information and direct links to more the 500 datasets, and this is just a small beginning. We’ve initially grouped the data into 9 broad categories and have generously used tags to make the directory searchable.
Aeronautics: Data related to the study, design, and manufacturing of flying machines
Earth Science: Earth science and physical earth observations
Space Science: All types of planetary or astronomical data; anything outside of the Earth and the Earth’s atmosphere
Life Science: Life sciences and human data, including space medicine and human factors.
Climate: Atmospheric and environmental data
Engineering: Engineering data, charts, or specifications
Operations:Mission operations data relating to flight programs, mission control, or on-orbit operations
Institutional: Data related to the historical and administrative functions of NASA as an Agency
Catalogs: This category points to external NASA catalogs on data.gov
We welcome public input on how to make this site better and encourage everyone to help us identify additional high-value datasets to add to the directory. Most importantly, by providing access to government data archives, we hope that citizens will be able to add value to raw data through the development of new mobile and web applications that re-use public data in innovative ways. We encourage you to explore and leverage the zettabytes of NASA raw open data and share with us what you discover and create!