A new Web-based interface is available for quick access to the spacecraft, experiment, and data set information contained in the NSSDC Master Catalog (NMC). There are in excess of 5,200 spacecraft identified in the NMC. The interface is listed on the NSSDC home page, but the direct URL for it is http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/sc-query.html.
This is a simple interface that provides three fields for searching for information: spacecraft name, spacecraft launch date or year, and discipline. Most people will know the name of a spacecraft of interest to them. This name can be entered directly in the spacecraft name search field and the query submitted. If users are not certain of the exact name or series number of the spacecraft, they can submit a more general character string, such as "explorer" to retrieve all spacecraft whose common or alias names begin with "explorer." It is useful to note that as of this writing not all hyphenation options work, so users should use hyphens to separate letters where this is appropriate in a spacecraft name (e.g., IMP-J) and avoid them with numbers (e.g., IMP 8).
If users do not know the name of a specific spacecraft of interest, a more general approach is to choose a discipline from the list provided in the discipline field. The third option for searching is by launch date. If an exact launch date is known, a particular spacecraft may be found very quickly. Not many people know these dates, however. The field may be used in a more general way. For example, just entering the year will find all spacecraft launched in that year. The three search criteria can be used in any combination to limit the amount of information retrieved.
When the user clicks on an item from the list of spacecraft satisfying the search criteria, the information content of the Master Catalog for that spacecraft is displayed. This information often includes specific mission information, an image of the spacecraft, and hyperlinks to other information items and sources, including NMC experiment and data set information. There are often links to related Web pages in other organizations.
Readers are invited to try this simple interface that is the gateway to a wealth of spacecraft, experiment, and data set information and to provide feedback.
Erin D. Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org, (301) 286-0163
Hughes STX, Code 633, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, U.S.A.