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Sun and Earth picture NASA's Heliophysics Data Environment:
Data and Services for the Heliophysics System Observatory

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Goals of the HPDE and the HP Scientific Data Management Policy

Heliophysics (HP) research seeks to determine and model the nature and dynamical interactions of the Sun, the heliosphere, and the plasma environments of the planets based on data from a fleet of spacecraft termed the "Heliophysics System Observatory." (See the NASA Science Plan 2010, and the Heliophysics Roadmap.) Achieving the desired understanding requires easy access to data and tools from a distributed set of active archives, each of which has its own architecture and formats: together these data and tools form the core of the Heliophysics Data Environment (HPDE). The NASA Heliophysics Science Data Management Policy (pdf version), composed with considerable community input, presents an integrated view of the HPDE. Among other things, the HP Data Policy provides a summary of the components of the HPDE, gives a timeline for the data lifecycle, and provides guidelines for documents such as Project Data Management Plans. This document is guiding the implementation of a distributed, integrated, flexible data environment to meet the current and future needs of Heliophysics research.

Principles: Scientific involvement; Open access to useful data

The basic principles for the HP Data Environment are the involvement of scientists in each stage of the process, and the acceptance of the goal of openly accessible data that are independently scientifically usable. While the HPDE is guided by a "top-down" vision provided by the Data Policy, it is implemented from the bottom up, built from peer-reviewed data systems driven by community needs and founded on community-based standards. Consistent with this approach, data providers and data users share responsibility for the quality and proper use of the data for research.

Background and significant references

A significant impetus for the direction of the current HP Data Environment (HPDE) was the The Final Report of the LWS Science Data System Planning Team that recommended a distributed approach growing out of current systems, guided by science needs, with a small administrative staff. Following that, The Right Amount of Glue: Technologies and Standards relevant to a Future Solar Terrestrial Data Environment presented the idea that standards such as XML and related software tools, and the behavioral standard of sharing data provide the "glue" needed to hold together a data access and use system. An overview of the "Virtual Observatories" that form the concrete realization of one part of the above ideas was provided in "A Framework for Space and Solar Physics Virtual Observatories." Central to the success of the Data Environment is a uniform set of terminology to describe products and their sources. A number of groups in the US and elsewhere have worked on this problem. To foster the interoperability of the various partners in the HPDE, NASA HP has sponsored the SPASE (Space Physics Archive Search and Extract) collaborative, consisting of scientists and software designers from a number of US and international institutions, to develop a Data Model that will allow uniform descriptions of products and services. The current official version of the Data Model is available for use, and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

Guide to the links above

The newest components of the HPDE are discipline-specific Virtual Observatories (VxOs) and post-mission Resident Archives; the News section here provides details on their selection as well as information on other successful proposals, relevant meetings, and other notes of interest. The History section provides further information on past HP data efforts and many links to earlier documents that still provide insight. To get to the real substance of the HPDE, namely the data from the HSO and related services, use the Data Access link. Many activities related to data access (e.g. "Virtual Observatories" and "Resident Archives") and to continual data improvements ("Data Upgrades") have been united within the "Heliophysics Data and Model Consortium"; click the HDMC link to see a description of the activities, and a complete lists of past and current projects. Like other NASA enterprises, Heliophysics is beginning to develop a guide to software tools relevant to HP research; the Software Tools tab above leads to current efforts at documentation. To see the current behavior of the particles and fields from the Sun that can affect human endeavors, follow the links on the "Space Weather" page, or try the Integrated Space Weather Analysis System (iSWA), an approach outside of these pages that allows you to design your own Space Weather monitor.

Responsible NASA official: Dr. Aaron Roberts
E-mail: aaron.roberts@nasa.gov

Webmaster: Tami Kovalick
E-mail: tamara.j.kovalick@nasa.gov
Last revised 28 May 2013
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