The Airborne Inventory

What is the Airborne Inventory?

Historically, airborne data have been collected during focused field campaigns or investigations aimed at the study of specific scientific concepts, or via instruments flown repeatedly in many investigations (known as facility instruments). The data collected have historically been stored in various locations such as NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), NASA airborne science facilities, field archives, or even individual scientists’ computer hard drives.

The Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) is currently building an airborne inventory that gathers together details (metadata) about NASA investigations, aircraft, instruments, deployments, flights, and data products. The aim is to provide a simple and consistent interface for users to learn about, locate, access, and utilize airborne data for important research, applications, and decision making. The airborne inventory will make it easier to identify needed data.

Why is It Needed?

The dispersed nature of existing NASA airborne data requires one central location for data discovery with an interface designed to meet the needs of airborne data users. Different types of users may want to access the information contained in the inventory in different ways. The ADMG recently distributed a survey to discover potential usage of this valuable tool. Results showed that users most want to locate needed airborne data using campaign name, location, time frame, variable, and aircraft. Flight track data search and lists of relevant scientific publications were also identified as being important. The survey helped to focus inventory development plans. Not all desired queries will be possible, however. For instance, the inventory will not be able to answer questions such as “Which of these measurements of the same quantity, which occurred at the same time and place but do not agree, is the most correct?” as the inventory will contain metadata, but will not consist of quality assessments or scientific conclusions. It will, however, contain some metadata about instrument measurement quality.

What Will it Do?

Users of the inventory will be able to access details of existing, past, and upcoming investigations involving aircraft instruments. Users will be able to obtain campaign descriptions, to search for NASA airborne data using multiple parameters, to identify needed data in space and/or time constraints, to access published data products, and more. A user interface will allow queries that will lead to summary pages we call “landing pages” full of campaign information and links to data products.

When Will it be Available?

The airborne data inventory is under construction and Phase 1 is expected to be completed during 2020. The initial inventory will provide access to NASA-published airborne data. Data not located at a NASA DAAC will be added at a later time. Inventory features will be expanded in later development phases to include, for example, flight track information and publication links.

How Can You Help?

Contact ADMG with information about how you would like to use the inventory if you did not participate in our survey. Knowledge of what users want from this inventory will help us to better plan for and provide future inventory improvements.

For More Information

Until the Airborne Inventory is ready, there are some resources available for finding information about NASA airborne campaigns.

Last Updated: Oct 1, 2019 at 2:21 PM EDT