NASA Earth Science Data Preservation Content Specification


The data resulting from NASA’s missions are a valuable resource that needs to be preserved for the benefit of future generations. In the near-term, as long as the missions’ data are being used actively for scientific research, it continues to be important to provide easy access to data and services commensurate with current information technology. For the longer term, when the research community focus shifts toward new missions and observations, it is essential to preserve the previous mission data and the information needed so that a new user in the future will be able to understand how the data were used for deriving information, knowledge and policy recommendations, and to be able to “repeat the experiment” to ascertain the validity and possible limitations of conclusions reached in the past and to provide confidence in long term trends that depended on data from multiple missions. While NASA is not legislatively mandated to preserve data permanently as are other agencies such as the USGS, NOAA and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), it is essential for NASA to preserve all the data and associated content beyond the lives of NASA’s missions to meet NASA’s near-term objective of providing access to data and services for active scientific research. Also NASA has to ensure that the data and associated content are preserved for transition to permanent archival agencies. To fulfill this responsibility, identification of the specific content items that need to be preserved from each of NASA’s missions is essential.

This document defines the contents of data, metadata and associated documentation to be preserved beyond the life of missions funded by NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD). The purpose of the document is to identify all the content items that need to be preserved to ensure their availability to support future investigations in long-term global change research. This document’s focus is on the contents (i.e., “what”) and not on the implementation or representation (i.e., “how”) of the content items. The contents are divided into eight categories: Preflight/Pre-Operations, Products (Data), Product Documentation, Mission Calibration, Product Software, Algorithm Input, Validation and Software Tools. Items are described under each of these categories along with rationale for requiring their preservation.

Specification Document

NASA Earth Science Data Preservation Content Specification
423-SPEC-001, Revision B, January 26, 2019
*This version supersedes previous versions. The 2019 version has no changes other than the extension of the expiration date.

User Resources

To request further guidance on collection Preservation Documentation, please use the ‘Feedback’ button on the right edge of this page.

Page Last Updated: Dec 21, 2021 at 9:31 AM EST