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Open Source Software in Satellite Science Data Processing at NASA

Emerging Topics
Location: E145 Level: Novice
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 6 ratings)

Over the last several decades, NASA has been one of the major collectors of Earth climate observations from space. The quantity of data from satellites has been exploding with the current generation producing hundreds of terrabytes of science data products each year.

The tools used to process this vast quantity of data have evolved over the years as well. This presentation will discuss the evolution of the ground system processing from large scale proprietary Unix platforms and traditional commercial databases to open source solutions including commodity clusters of Linux machines, Perl-based software frameworks, migration to the PostgreSQL open source database, and CVS and subversion tools for assisting configuration management.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectoradiometer (MODIS) instrument
launched in 1999 on NASA’s Terra spacecraft and a MODIS on the Aqua
spacecraft in 2002. MODIS data is currently processed by the MODIS
Adaptive Processing System (MODAPS). The MODAPS data processing
framework has more recently been adapted for the Ozone Monitoring
Instrument (OMI), a Dutch-built instrument that NASA launched on the
Aura spacecraft in 2005. Each of these systems relies on software deliveries from a diverse international community of scientists who have developed the complex algorithms for transforming the data from the raw form captured by the instrument in space to meaningful data that can be used by researchers studying the Earth’s climate.

Using these as examples of remote sensing science data processing, Tilmes will present the evolving architecture of the system and how NASA uses
open source software to process petabytes of data. He will discuss some of the particular open source packages they use and how they use them, and focus on some of the particular advantages to open source in general, and specific advantages they have found for some of the tools they have incorporated into the system. Included will be some of NASA’s efforts to encourage software reuse and to become more involved in the open source community and release software under the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA).

Curt Tilmes

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Curt Tilmes is a Computer Scientist at NASA, Goddard Spaceflight
Center in Greenbelt MD. He received B.S. degrees in Computer
Engineering and Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1991 and M.S
degrees in Computer Science and System Engineering from Johns Hopkins
University in 1997 and 2002 respectively. He has a background in
programming, databases and system administration. He has been working
at GSFC on a number of projects since 1994. His current research
interests included provenance management throughout the data
processing of earth science climate research data.

OSCON 2008