Improving NASA’s Earth Satellite and Model Data Discoverability for Interdisciplinary Research, Applications, and Education





Citation of Original Publication

Liu, Z, Shie, C-L, Shen, S, Acker, J, Li, A, Wei, JC and Meyer, DJ. 2023. Improving NASA’s Earth Satellite and Model Data Discoverability for Interdisciplinary Research, Applications, and Education. Data Science Journal, 22: 9, pp. 1–16. DOI: https://doi. org/10.5334/dsj-2023-009


This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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Since the Internet era began, numerous earth science data services have been developed to facilitate data discovery (e.g., data sources, documents, facts, visualization, opinions) and data access for research and application activities. For example, a large collection of NASA’s earth science data has been made searchable and freely downloadable over the Internet. Some value-added services even allow users to analyze and visualize many variables online (e.g., 2,000+ in NASA Giovanni) without downloading data and software. However, finding and discovering suitable datasets and information for interdisciplinary research (involving two or more scientific disciplines), applications, education, and other emerging activities (e.g., water, food, energy nexus) has been a challenge not only for users, especially for those who are unfamiliar with scientific disciplines, measurements, or models, but also for data producers and service developers who want their data to be discoverable. NASA earth science data are currently archived and distributed at twelve NASA discipline-oriented Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs). Even though most datasets are online, search results often contain many similar datasets with limited information for self-guided or heuristic dataset discovery, so some users simply send an inquiry to DAAC support staff for advice. Conducting interdisciplinary research often requires multiple datasets from different data repositories, which can make it even harder to find and discover suitable datasets without additional data services to accommodate these emerging user needs. In this article, we assess current data discovery practices and publications (e.g., reports from working groups) to identify challenges and make actionable recommendations for improving earth science data discoverability and facilitating interdisciplinary activities. Highlights: Status review of earth science data discoverability for interdisciplinary research and applications at NASA GES DISC. Review of data discovery research and working group activity. Discuss challenges and opportunities for interdisciplinary data discovery with recommendations for practitioners.