Life Sciences Data Archive (LSDA)

Mapped to Reference Model

John Turner
7 December 1995


User Community

The LSDA user community consists of researchers, students, teachers, Life Sciences managers, and international Space Life Sciences Agencies.

Expertise level of the expected customers

The users of the LSDA are assumed to be not familiar with how the archive functions, but users are expected to be knowledgeable as to the content of the archives.


The LSDA is under NASA Management and the NASA Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Division (Code UL) of the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (Code U) is responsible for the data and information.

Ingest Rate

Currently the ingest rate is slow. The Life Sciences Data Archive has about one year after each mission before it can finalize the archiving of the data. However, in the future the rate of acquisition will increase greatly from the hundreds of experiments per year during space station operations.

Storage Requirements

The LSDA has long term storage requirements. No definite time period has been determined, however the requirements do make it clear that the data should be in a common format, on standard media, and described in a useful manner to allow future researchers to use the data.

Data Types

The LSDA has many different types of data including; Digital, Analog (Video, Audio, RACAL, TEAC), Hardcopy Documents, and Biospecimens.

Media Delivery

Currently, the LSDA descriptive information can be obtained from the WWW and from the distributed CD-ROMS. However, the electronic data can only be distributed via CD-ROM. Other data types can be ordered from the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) via the WWW or from the CD-ROM.

Size of Data

The size of each data set varies from a few Kilobytes to 4 or 5 megabytes.

Total Size of Archive

Currently the LSDA has archived one mission, Spacelab Life Sciences - 1. This mission has around 2 gigabtyes of data, 100-150 videotapes, 335 biospecimens, and 700 mission related documents.

Complexity of Subject Area

The LSDA is multidiscipline and the subject area is highly complex.

Centralized vs. Distributed

The online Master Catalog/Directory and data distribution is centralized at the NSSDC while the science nodes are located at the NASA Centers currently, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; Johnson Space Center, Houston TX).




The external interface that accepts information into the archive. This may include staging of information in preparation for full acceptance, confirmation of receipt, and validation.

LSDA Interfaces

The LSDA receives information about each experiment from multiple sources. The data are retrieved in three phases, preflight, inflight, and postflight. The inflight raw data are acquired immediately after the flight. The pre and post flight data may not be retrieved for some time after the mission is over. The key interfaces to the archive are the principal investigators, the Baseline Data Collection Facility, the Life Sciences Support Facility, and the ground systems interfaces.

Principal Investigator

The principal investigator is the researcher responsible for the experiment. This is the individual who is responsible for providing the data and information to the archive.

Baseline Data Collection Facility (BDCF) and The Life Sciences Support Facility (Hanger L)

The BDCF is where the majority of the pre and post flight experiment sessions are performed for human test subjects. For non-human subjects immediate pre and post flight data are acquired at laboratory facilities in Hanger L at the Kennedy Space Center. The LSDA works with each of the principal investigators to retrieve the data and information as they are acquired.

Ground systems interfaces

During the inflight experiments, the LSDA has connections (in some caSes) to acquire the real-time data as they are being acquired.

Validation Procedures

The LSDA has guidelines and standard operating procedures for how each dataset is validated.

Ingest of Digital Data

In some cases the digital data are acquired real-time from the spacecraft or ground based experiment control. In other cases they are acquired from the PI or Project Science office.

Ingest of Analog Data

Analog data, such as video and audio tapes, are obtained post flight from the Project office.

Ingest of Hardcopy Data

Hardcopy data are acquired through all phases of the experiment and include planning documents, experiment procedures, crew logs and final reports.

Ingest of Biospecimens

The archive stores some of the collected biospecimens and catalogs the location of the PI held samples.



The external interface for querying, browsing, and product ordering by information consumers including other archive sites.

LSDA External Interfaces

For online access the LSDA uses the WWW and the HTML format. The HTML pages access an Oracle database using SQL commands. For the CD-ROM interfaces the database manager Filemaker Pro version 2.3 is used.



The external interface that sends copies of requested information to the consumer.

All of the requested data are sent via CD-ROM to the user. The ordering process is handled by a HTML interface.



The internal interface for populating and maintaining catalogs, directories, inventories and related metadata stores.

The metadata are managed with FileMaker Pro version 2.3 software by the LSDA Project nodes.

Metadata are ingested from Filemaker Pro into the central Master Catalog for user access. The Master Catalog uses Oracle database software.



The internal interface for storage and retrieval of data products from long-term stores.

The LSDA stores all data on CD-ROMs in the ISO9660 format. All data are written into the standard format of ASCII. The catalog information is also stored on the CD-ROMs and is stored in ASCII format.


LSDA operations procedures and policies are documented in the Operations Plan, Level I and II requirements and multiple standard operating procedures.


A top level description of the Life Sciences Data Archive is available in a brochure from the NSSDC. A good detailed description is available from the LSDA Operations Plan document.

This archive is distinguished from other NASA archives in that a variety of data types are cataloged and stored, including digital, analog, hardcopy and biospecimens.

The reference model that the committee has developed seems to fit well with the Life Sciences Data Archive. The only questionable areas include the ingest of Biospecimens, hardcopy materials, and analog media and how they will fit into the model.

Mr. John Turner
Life Science Data Archive
555 Forge River Road
Webster, Texas 77546

Phone: +1 713 483 6048
Fax: +1 713 483 4951

Wider Views

Overview of the First International Workshop
Overview of International Effort


A service of NOST at NSSDC. Access statistics for this web are available. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Author: John Turner ( +1.713.483.6048
Curator: John Garrett ( +1.301.441.4169
Responsible Official: Code 633.2 / Don Sawyer ( +1.301.286.2748
Last Revised: 7 December 1995, John Turner (14 April 1998, John Garrett)