Since the appearance of the last NSSDC News issue, NASA's Office of Space Science (OSS) has received the report of the Task Group on Science Data Management. This task group had been chartered to review and comment on OSS's distributed data management and archiving environment, including but not limited to NSSDC, to identify activities that might be candidates for "privatizing," and in the context of the overall OSS environment to recommend best approaches to evolving the present NSSDC and its functions.
The task group strongly reaffirmed the principles enunciated over a decade ago by the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Data Management and Computation (CODMAC). The primary tenet of CODMAC was that data should be managed to the maximal extent feasible by the scientific community that best knows the data. The largely university-based discipline nodes of OSS's discipline data systems (Planetary Data System, etc.) were cited as still-appropriate implementations of the CODMAC principles.
The task group envisioned an OSS public data environment, the Space Science Data System, characterized by a Coordinating Office at Goddard Space Flight Center (into which NSSDC would evolve), a competitively selected Permanent Archive responsible for both data preservation and such off-line data dissemination (e.g., the mailing of CD-ROMs to members of the general public) as was needed in the increasingly electronic networked era, a series of competitively selected community-based discipline nodes. Guidance and prioritization would be provided by a community-based Information Systems and Operations Working Group. OSS is presently firming up its plan for moving the evolution of its data management and archiving environment forward.
Erin D. Gardner, email@example.com, (301) 286-0163
Hughes STX, Code 633, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, U.S.A.