CIESIN Thematic Guides

Systems for Archiving, Managing, and Distributing Satellite Image Data

The evolution of major satellite data acquisition programs for global change research purposes has included an emphasis on developing data archiving, management, and distribution systems. These systems encompass a wide range of activities that include not only the receipt, storage, and distribution of satellite data, but also the development and continual update of publicly accessible directories about the data; processing capabilities for generating standard products from the data; and archiving and management of related data (such as corresponding ground observations) and derived information. The term "Data and Information System" (DIS) has been adopted for this set of activities.

Systematic efforts to develop data and information systems are motivated by two overriding concerns: 1) the need to archive and manage efficiently the enormous volumes of data generated by earth-orbiting satellites; and 2) the major challenge of making such data known to and accessible by global change researchers. Scientific success in understanding global environmental change depends, in part, on the capabilities of data and information systems to enable access to extensive data holdings, facilitating the research efforts of individuals and stimulating cooperation among many researchers.

This section provides information on the directories and systems for archiving and managing Earth-observation and related Earth-science data, and making the data readily available to the global-change science community. The focal point for international coordination of these activities is the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). CEOS has guided the development of the Global Change Master Directory, accessible through nodes of the International Directory Network, a global network coordinated by CEOS. Major programs of global change research are developing "data and information systems," which will become components of the GCMD, to provide archival, access, and distribution services for data and information that they have acquired and produced. Such programs include the Earth Observing System Data and Information System, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program Data and Information System, and the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Program Data and Information System.