Multi-sensor Data Synergy Advisor: Making Sense of Complex Data Sets
Merging data sets collected by different instruments and stored within different file structures can be like mixing oil and water, but creating these data infusions is essential for building comprehensive, nuanced descriptions of complicated Earth systems.
In 2008, a team of ESTO-funded NASA scientists began developing a new software tool for combining unique data sets more efficiently. Their project, the “Multi-sensor Data Synergy Advisor (MDSA),” automatically identified potential relationships between disparate data sets, greatly reducing the amount of time it took researchers to turn raw information into complete science products describing tremendously complex phenomena like climate change.
Led by Gregory Leptoukh, a NASA Science Data Manager, and Christopher Lynnes, a NASA Data Systems Architect, the research team successfully codified ontology parameters in such a way that computers could find similarities between data sets regardless of how those data sets were formatted or stored.
Their ontological technique was a novel, user-friendly technology innovation that made it much easier for scientists to incorporate data sets from numerous disciplines and missions into their research.
An atmospheric chemist, for example, interested in studying the impact air pollution might have on ocean acidification, could use the MDSA to synthesize a single data product that correlates air quality data gathered by one instrument with marine water quality data gathered by another.
In 2011, Leptoukh and Lynnes successfully transferred the MDSA to the Goddard Earth System Data and Information Services Center, where it became a software augmentation for Giovanni – one of NASA’s data access and visualization portals.
In addition, components of the project eventually became independent products. The MDSA “Semantic Advisor” helped researchers improve NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Center and allowed scientists to better incorporate ozone measurements into NASA’s Atmospheric Composition Portal.
ESTO’s Advanced Information Systems Technology (AIST) program funded the Multi-sensor Data Synergy Advisor project.