NASA Supercomputer Facility To Provide Enhanced Landsat Data
July 24, 2012

NASA Supercomputer Facility To Provide Enhanced Landsat Data

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

A new NASA supercomputer will help take the space agency into a new chapter of discovery through enhanced Landsat observations.

NASA is making the NEX facility available to the research community for further research and development after extensive development and testing.

The new facility is a virtual laboratory that will allow scientists to tackle Earth science challenges with global high-resolution satellite observations.

"Because of the large volume of high-resolution Landsat data, scientists who wanted to study the planet as a whole prior to NEX needed to invest tremendous amounts of time and effort to develop high-end computational methods rather than focus on important scientific problems," Tsengdar Lee, high-end computing program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a press release. "NEX greatly simplifies researchers' access to and analysis of high-resolution data like Landsat."

The new facility will contain a large collection of global data sets and analysis tools from NASA, according to the space agency. Some of the data will include surface weather records, topography, soils, land cover and global climate simulations.

Scientists can fit Landsat scenes together like a jigsaw puzzle to create snapshots of global vegetation patterns that contain over a half-trillion pixels in less than 10 hours, according to NASA.

"The science community is under increasing pressure not only to study recent and projected changes in climate that likely impact our global environment and natural resources, but also to design solutions to mitigate, or cope, with the likely impacts," Rama Nemani, a senior Earth scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said in a press release. "We want to change the research paradigm by bringing large data holdings and supercomputing capabilities together, so researchers have everything they need in one place."

NEX combines Earth-system modeling, remote-sensing data from NASA and other agencies, and a scientific social networking platform to deliver a complete research environment.

The supercomputer users can explore and analyze large Earth science data sets, NASA said, as well as run and share modeling algorithms and collaborate on new or existing projects.

"Scientists believe costs and time associated with research development may be reduced significantly by allowing NEX members to collaborate instantly in this type of large-scale supercomputing work environment," NASA said. "For example, NEX may relieve researchers from redundantly retrieving and integrating data sets and building modeling analysis codes."

Monday marked the 40th anniversary since NASA launched the first Landsat satellite in cooperation with the Interior Department.

"Landsat has given us a critical perspective on our planet over the long term and will continue to help us understand the big picture of Earth and its changes from space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "With this view we are better prepared to take action on the ground and be better stewards of our home."

NASA will be launching the next Landsat satellite in February 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.