Space Data:

NASA's Future Data Volumes Create Formidable Challenges

IMTEC-91-24: Published: Apr 8, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1991.

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Samuel W. Bowlin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) future storage needs and its initiatives for using information technologies.

GAO found that: (1) the volume of data NASA will archive will rise over 5,600 percent from 1990 to 2000; (2) NASA planned to design and construct the Earth Observing System Data Information System (EOSDIS), using an advanced mass storage system, to support the estimated $38-billion Earth Observing System (EOS) program; (3) EOSDIS initiatives could pose formidable challenges because of NASA reliance on an advanced mass data storage system that is not yet available, that may not work, and for which no media and data format standards exist; (4) NASA estimated that improving and completing its Customer Data and Operations System (CDOS), designed to provide initial ground processing, communications, data distribution, and archival of initially processed data, could cost between $500 million to $600 million; (5) the NASA information technology initiatives may not be visible to Congress, since NASA did not plan to report separately on each initiative; and (6) some planned storage requirements for EOSDIS may be unnecessarily redundant, adding about $35 million to the estimated cost.

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