GES DISC (Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Center)

Giovanni: Remote Sensing Data Access, Visualization, and Analysis

James Acker

The GES DISC (Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Center) provides an extensive public archive of Earth Science data to the global research community. With an emphasis on precipitation, atmospheric dynamics, and atmospheric chemistry, the GES DISC also provides weather and climate model data, land hydrology data, and ocean color radiometry data.

The GES DISC is NASA’s archive for Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Data (TRMM), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), the Ozone Measuring Instrument (OMI), and the Modern-Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA). The GES DISC will be the NASA archive for data form the upcoming GLORY mission.

The GES DISC’s innovative data search-and-order interface, Mirador, and the renowned Goddard Interactive Online Visualization And aNalysis Infrastructure (GIOVANNI) provide users of all skill and education levels the opportunity to find, examine, and use NASA Earth Science remote-sensing data.




Web-based, user friendly, customized data analyses and visualizations: lat/long maps, scatter plots, correlation maps, time series and difference plots, temporal animation plots

Laboratory for ocean color users: tutorials for using Giovanni to observe the oceans

NASA’s S’Cool Program

Any primary or secondary school teacher and his or her class is eligible to participate in S’COOL. We suggest students be at least nine to ten years old, but younger students have successfully participated and are welcome if the teacher feels it is appropriate. Teachers are invited to participate as it best fits with the curriculum they are teaching in the classroom. Note that there are many cross-disciplinary lesson plan ideas available. Occasionally Intensive Observing Periods (IOP) will still be announced, during which we would like to receive the most observations possible to contribute to validation of the CERES instrument data. The S’COOL letter of invitation provides details on how to register with the project. Find out How to Participate.

Those not at a fixed site such as a school are also invited to participate through the Rover part of the project.

Absolute requirements are: a teacher, some students, a place to observe the sky, and a convenient satellite overpass. We also suggest a few other items.

Current Participants

S’COOL currently reaches over 2800 schools in all 50 states and in over 75 countries. Most Recent MapComplete list of those who are currently active observers.

NASA’s GLOBE Program

GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. GLOBE’s vision promotes and supports students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth system working in close partnership with NASA and NSF Earth System Science Projects (ESSPs) in study and research about the dynamics of Earth’s environment.

Who is involved in GLOBE?

Announced in 1994, GLOBE began operations on Earth Day 1995. Today, the international GLOBE network has grown to include representatives from 111 participating countries coordinating GLOBE activities that are integrated into their local and regional communities. Due to their efforts, there are more than 50,000 GLOBE-trained teachers representing over 23,000 schools around the world. GLOBE students have contributed more than 20 millionmeasurements to the GLOBE database for use in their inquiry-based science projects.

GLOBE brings together students, teachers and scientists through the GLOBE Schools Network in support of student learning and research. Parents, Scientists and GLOBE Alumni also support students’ engagement in GLOBE.

Science Visualization Studio

Dr. Horace Mitchell

They take data from scientists around the world and create animations and video to explain – offers these analyses free to anyone in the world:

Archive of information – not highly organized: intent for others to use the information as needed

“The mission of the Scientific Visualization Studio is to facilitate scientific inquiry and outreach within NASA programs through visualization. To that end, the SVS works closely with scientists in the creation of visualization products, systems, and processes in order to promote a greater understanding of Earth and Space Science research activities at Goddard Space Flight Center and within the NASA research community.

All the visualizations created by the SVS (currently totaling over 3,000) are accessible to you through this Web site. More recent animations are provided as MPEG-4s, MPEG-2s, and MPEG-1s. Some animations are available in high definition as well as NTSC format. Where possible, the original digital images used to make these animations have been made accessible. Lastly, high and low resolution stills, created from the visualizations, are included, with previews for selective downloading.”

NASA’s Aqua Satellite and Its Contributions to Earth Science and Applications

Claire Parkinson

Measuring water on the earth … approx 70% of earth’s surface using 6 instruments

Different instruments serve different purposes in order to measure various ranges in the electro-magnetic spectrum

Carbon dioxide is second most important greenhouse gas on the earth (first is water vapor) … “we know humans are greatly contributing to the increase… it’s clear that industrialization and land use has led to carbon dioxide concentration rising”

Keeling Curve from 1960 to 2010 shows increase over time, as well as the annual cycle because of vegetation in northern hemisphere – AIRS data from 2002 until today confirms Keeling Curve showing Mauna Loa data is confirmed on a global level

NASA runs multiple missions collecting data in order to validate the information (ground measurement compared with satellite measurement)

MODIS tool has such good resolution, can view forest fires, oil slicks, water, vegetation, etc. – very easy to view changes over time

Aqua enables data to be collected to anyone who points a direct broadcast receiving system at the satellite; has gotten far more reception than expected when launched (collects over 89 gigs of data per day)


Are the satellites powerful enough to read the name on a golf ball? No, Aqua and Terra have nowhere near that resolution (MODIS resolution is the best – gets down to 250 meters)

Where to google maps get their data? They use a lot of NASA stuff, but they use other sources as well.

Can we retrieve the satellites? They are far higher than where the shuttle goes – we can’t actually retrieve them.  But we don’t let them decay and add to space debris. Therefore the amount of fuel is calculated so that at the end of its life, the satellite will descend to a point where they will decay and pieces will safely fall to earth. Earlier satellites were launched without that plan in mind, but now all NASA launches must have a plan for safe descent.

An Overview of NASA Earth Science Satellite Constellations

Steve Platnick, EOS Project Scientist, A-Train Project Scientist

Angelita C. Kelly, EOS Science Interface Manager, Constellation Team Manager

History of NASA studying earth science

“Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” (Socrates, 400BC)

We live in a gifted time in terms of technology

3 main earth observing system (EOS) platforms: individual satellites carry multiple earth observing tools in themes: water cycle, land, tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry

research on …

  • atmospheric composition
  • climate variability and change
  • water and energy cycle
  • carbon cycle and ecosystem
  • earth surface and interior
  • weather
  • interdisciplinary science


constellation flying (group of satellites coordinated to fly in tandem so photographs of earth are taken at the same time): A-Train (afternoon constellation) and Morning Constellations

Multiple satellites with different instruments complement each other – provides bigger picture

The Constellations are an international effort, managed by multiple organizations

All scientific data is completely free and web-accessible from anywhere in the world

Students who aspire to work at NASA should take math and science courses as soon as they are offered at their grade levels; there are various choices for a technical career at NASA: scientist, engineering, data systems, computer specialist, analyst, quality control, education and outreach (and there are non-technical careers that contribute to NASA’s work)


  • A-train:
  • Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Science Office:
  • The Earth Observatory:
  • Science Visualization Studio:
  • MODIS Rapid Response Imagery:

NASA Do-It-Yourself Podcast

    Great classroom activity:
    Are you looking for a new approach to engage your students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? NASA’s Do-It-Yourself Podcast activity sets the stage for students to host a show that features astronauts training for missions, doing experiments in space or demonstrating equipment. We’ll provide a set of audio and video clips along with photos and information about a space-related topic. You and your students may choose as many items as you want to include in your project and download them to your computer. Students may use the information we provide or conduct their own research to write a script for an audio or video production.

NASA eClips

NASA eClips™ are short, relevant educational video segments. These videos inspire and engage students, helping them see real world connections. New video segments are produced weekly exploring current applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, topics. The programs are produced for targeted audiences: K-5, 6-8, 9-12 and the general public.

NASA eClips™ offer unlimited flexibility in the classroom for timing, sequencing and pacing instruction to meet the needs of students and classroom instructors. Educational material for this program is selected based on national curriculum standards identified by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM, the National Science Teachers Association, or NSTA, and the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE.