Earth Observing System:

Information on NASA's Selection of Data Centers

IMTEC-91-67: Published: Sep 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) selection of seven Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAAC) for the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), a large, distributed information system project expected to cost between $3.6 billion and $4 billion through fiscal year 2000, focusing on: (1) the process NASA used to select seven DAAC sites; (2) other data centers with significant earth science holdings; and (3) the roles and functions of data centers within EOSDIS.

GAO found that: (1) according to Earth Observing System (EOS) officials, the NASA program officials relied on their own experience and knowledge of the capabilities at potential sites in selecting the seven DAAC sites; (2) NASA criteria require that a potential DAAC site possess a critical mass of in-house scientific expertise in the use of remotely sensed data, an existing management and technical infrastructure, and a long-term institutional commitment to the processing and archiving of EOS and related non-EOS data; (3) a number of data centers with significant earth science data holdings were not selected, but NASA plans to negotiate agreements with some of those other agencies to have their facilities serve as affiliated data centers, providing EOSDIS with specially processed data unavailable elsewhere; (4) DAAC will be responsible for processing, archiving, and distributing data from the EOS observatory instruments; and (5) NASA has allowed for future changes to the number or location of DAAC, but currently has no plans to make any such changes.

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