EGU23-2454, updated on 09 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The future of NASA Earth Science in the commercial cloud: Challenges and opportunities

Alexey Shiklomanov1, Manil Maskey2, Yoseline Angel1,3, Aimee Barciauskas4, Philip Brodrick5, Brian Freitag2, and Jonas Sølvsteen4
Alexey Shiklomanov et al.
  • 1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States of America
  • 2NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States of America
  • 3Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), University of Maryland-College Park, College Park, MD, United States of America
  • 4Development Seed, Washington, DC, United States of America
  • 5NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States of America

NASA produces a large volume and variety of data products that are used every day to support research, decision making, and education. The widespread use of NASA’s Earth Science data is enabled by NASA’s Earth Science Data System (ESDS) program, which oversees the archiving and distribution of these data and invests in the development of new data systems and tools. However, NASA’s current approach to Earth Science data distribution — based on distributed institutional archives with individual on-premises high-performance computing capabilities — faces some significant challenges, including massive increases in data volume from upcoming missions, a greater need for transdisciplinary science that synthesizes many different kinds of observations, and a push to make science more open, inclusive, and accessible. To address these challenges, NASA is aggressively migrating its Earth Science data and related tools and services into the commercial cloud. Migration of data into the commercial cloud can significantly improve NASA’s existing data system capabilities by (1) providing more flexible options for storage and compute (including rapid, as-needed access to state-of-the-art capabilities); (2) by centralizing and standardizing data access, which gives all of NASA’s institutional data centers access to all of each other’s datasets; and (3) by facilitating “analysis-in-place”, whereby users can bring their own computational workflows and tools to the data rather than having to maintain their own copies of NASA datasets. However, migration to the commercial cloud also poses some significant challenges, including (1) managing costs under a “pay-as-you-go” model; (2) incompatibility with existing tools and data formats with object-based storage and network access; (3) vendor lock-in; (4) challenges with data access for workflows that mix on-premise and cloud computing; and (5) standardization for highly diverse data as is present in NASA’s data archive. I conclude with two examples of recent NASA activities showcasing capabilities enabled by the commercial cloud: An interactive analysis and development platform for analyzing airborne imaging spectroscopy data, and a new collection of tools and services for data discovery, analysis, publication, and data-driven storytelling (Visualization, Exploration, and Data Analysis, VEDA).

How to cite: Shiklomanov, A., Maskey, M., Angel, Y., Barciauskas, A., Brodrick, P., Freitag, B., and Sølvsteen, J.: The future of NASA Earth Science in the commercial cloud: Challenges and opportunities, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2454,, 2023.