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NASA looks to the cloud to support next-generation Earth missions

State-of-the-art Earth Science satellites launched in the near future will generate an unprecedented amount of data on the vital signs of our planet. Cloud computing helps researchers get the most out of this pile of information. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

As satellites collect increasingly large amounts of data, engineers and researchers are implementing solutions to manage these vast increases.


State-of-the-art geoscience satellites, launched in the coming years, will provide a more detailed view of our planet than ever before. Track small marine features such as coastal streams that move essential nutrients to the marine food web, monitor the amount of freshwater flowing through lakes and rivers, and find surface movements less than 0.5 inches (centimeters). can do. ). However, these satellites also generate large amounts of data that set up systems in the cloud that allow engineers and scientists to process, store, and analyze all of their digital information.

“About five or six years ago, we realized that future Earth missions would generate large amounts of data and the systems we were using would soon be inadequate,” said Suresh Vannan, manager of Physical Oceanography Distributed. I am. An active archive center based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The center is one of several programs under NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program responsible for processing, archiving, documenting, and distributing data from NASA’s earth observation satellites and field projects. The program has been working on solving information volume challenges for several years by moving data and data processing systems from local servers to the cloud (software and computing services that run on the Internet rather than on someone else’s machine). rice field.

NASA looks to the cloud to support next-generation Earth missions

A portion of the SWOT satellite’s scientific equipment payload will be placed in the clean room of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during assembly. By measuring the height of the planet’s oceans, lakes, and rivers, researchers can track the quantity and location of finite resources around the world. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which is part of the Sentinel-6 / Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission in the United States and Europe, is the first NASA satellite to utilize this cloud system, but the amount of data sent back by the spacecraft. Is different. It is as large as the data returned by many future satellites.

Two of these upcoming missions, SWOT and NISAR, together generate about 100 terabytes of data per day. One terabyte is about 1,000 gigabytes, which is the digital storage for about 250 feature films. SWOT (short for Surface Water and Ocean Topography) produces about 20 terabytes of scientific data per day, and the NISAR (NASA-Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar) mission produces about 80 terabytes per day. Data from SWOT will be archived at the Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center, and data from NISAR will be processed at the Alaska Satellite Facility Distributed Active Archive Center. NASA’s current geoscience data archive is about 40 petabytes (1 petabyte is 1,000 petabytes), but by 2025, a few years after SWOT and NISAR started, the archive is expected to hold more than 245 petabytes of data. Will be done.

Both NISAR and SWOT use radar-based equipment to collect information. With the goal of launching in 2023, NISAR will monitor the surface of the earth, such as land changes due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, changes in the earth’s ice sheets and glaciers, agricultural activities, wetlands, and changes in forest size. Collect data about environmental characteristics. ..

NASA looks to the cloud to support next-generation Earth missions

Some of the NISAR satellites will be in the thermal vacuum chamber of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2020. Earth satellites track subtle changes in the surface of the planet, which is only 0.4 inches. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

SWOT will monitor surface water heights on both ocean and freshwater planets for the 2022 launch, helping researchers organize their first survey of freshwater and small currents in the world. .. SWOT is co-developed by NASA and the French National Space Agency, the French Space Agency.

“This is a new era of earth observation missions, and the sheer volume of data they generate requires a new era of data processing,” said Kevin Murphy, Chief Scientific Data Officer at NASA’s Department of Science Missions. Says. “NASA is working across government agencies to promote efficient access to a common cloud infrastructure, as well as training the scientific community to access, analyze, and use that data. I am. “

Faster download

Today, geoscience satellites send data back to ground stations, where engineers convert raw information from 1s and 0s to measurements that people can use and understand. Processing raw data increases the file size, but for older missions that send back a relatively small amount of information, this is not a big issue. The measurements are then sent to a data archive that holds the information on the server. In general, when researchers want to use a dataset, they log on to a website, download the data they need, and then operate it on their machine.

However, in missions like SWOT and NISAR, that is not feasible for most scientists. If someone wants to download a day’s worth of information from a SWOT to their computer, they need 20 laptops, each capable of storing terabytes of data. If a researcher wants to download four days’ worth of data from NISAR, it will take about a year to run on an average home internet connection. Manipulating data stored in the cloud means that scientists don’t have to buy a huge hard drive to download the data or wait months for a large number of large files to be downloaded to the system. Means. Lee-Lueng Fu, SWOT’s JPL project scientist, said:

Infrastructure limits are less of an issue, as organizations don’t have to pay to store staggering amounts of data or maintain physical space on all these hard drives. “JPL does not have additional physical server space with sufficient capacity and flexibility to support both NISAR and SWOT,” said Hook Hua, JPL Scientific Data Systems Architect for both missions. I am.

NASA engineers are already taking advantage of this aspect of cloud computing as a proof-of-concept product using Sentinel-1 data. NS Hygiene Is an ESA (European Space Agency) mission that uses a different type of radar equipment than that used by NISAR, but also looks at changes in the Earth’s surface. Engineers used Sentinel-1 data in the cloud to create a colored map showing the changes in the Earth’s surface from vegetation-rich areas to deserts. Paul Rosen, JPL Project Scientist at NISAR, said: “If we were to do this outside the cloud, we would have had to buy all the thousands of machines.”

Cloud computing does not replace all the ways researchers deal with science data setAlex Gardner, a member of JPL’s NISAR science team studying glaciers and sea level rise, said, however, that at least earth sciences are certainly making steady progress. He assumes that most of his analysis will be done somewhere in the near future, not on laptops or personal servers. “I’m completely looking forward to it in 5 to 10 years. There aren’t many hard drives. computer And I will explore the new fire hose data In the cloud. ”


Assembling satellites to track the world’s water shift from the United States to France


For more information:
To find out about NASA’s public datasets, visit the following website: data.nasa.gov /

Quote: NASA is the next generation Earth mission acquired on October 13, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-nasa-cloud-next-generation-earth-missions (October 2021) 13th) Turn to the cloud to help.html

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NASA looks to the cloud to support next-generation Earth missions

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