ACCESS to Terra Data Fusion Products

Terra is the flagship of NASA’s Earth Observing System. Launched in 1999, Terra’s five instruments continue to gather data that enable scientists to address fundamental questions that are central to the six NASA Earth Science Research Focus Areas. It is amongst the most popular NASA datasets, serving not only the scientific community, but also governmental, commercial, and educational communities.


The strength of the Terra mission has always been rooted in its five instruments and the ability to fuse the instrument data together for obtaining greater quality of information for Earth Science compared to individual instruments alone. As the data volume grows and the central Earth Science questions shift from process-oriented to climate-oriented questions, the need for data fusion and the ability for scientists to perform large-scale analytics with long records have never been greater. The challenge is particularly acute for Terra, given its growing volume of data (> 1 petabyte), the storage of different instrument data at different archive centers, the different file formats and projection systems employed for different instrument data, and the inadequate cyberinfrastructure for scientists to access and process whole-mission fusion data (including Level 1 data). Sharing newly derived Terra products with the rest of the world also poses challenges. This proposal, ACCESS to Terra Data Fusion Products, aims to resolve two longstanding problems:


  1. 1) How do we efficiently generate and deliver Terra data fusion products?
  2. 2) How do we facilitate the use of Terra data fusion products by the community in generating new products and knowledge through national computing facilities, and disseminate these new products and knowledge through national data sharing services?

Our approach leverages national facilities and services that are managed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, specifically the National Petascale Computing Facility, which houses the Blue Waters supercomputer, and the National Data Service (NDS). Key advantages of leveraging Blue Waters and the NDS for access, usage, and distribution of Terra data fusion products and science results are that the Terra data and processing are local, with access and sharing that are global. This represents a significant community-element addition to NASA’s system of systems infrastructure. ACCESS to Terra Data Fusion Products will initiate the development, access and delivery of Level 1B radiance Terra Fusion files for the broader community. Level 1B fusion provides the necessary stepping-stone for developing higher-level products, and provides the framework for other flavors of fusion. Enhancements to our existing open source codes in the CyberGIS Toolkit for scalable map projections on any grid for the new Terra Fusion files will also be delivered.


The potential impacts here are broad. In particular, this project will allow scientists and other Terra users to (1) facilitate greater ease in creating new geophysical retrieval algorithms that provide greater accuracy relative to the current single instrument algorithms, (2) provide an easy mechanism for users to access and process the entire Terra record, (3) greatly reduce error and redundancy in the science community who are using multiple Terra instrument datasets, (4) provide greater insight into geophysical processes through synergistic use of different instruments and their products, and (5) provide a framework for fusion that could extend to other NASA missions and constellations (e.g., AM-constellation, Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite - R series (GOES-R), A-Train). The end result will be to facilitate discovery and to accelerate progress in Earth Science research. To reach our goals, we bring together expertise from NCSA, The HDF Group, and the University of Illinois' Department of Atmospheric Sciences, with collaborators from NASA centers and other institutions, to form a lasting working relationship with NASA's Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS).


Larry Di Girolamo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017 at 2:34 PM EST