Public Release of ISTP Key Parameter Data Begins

Volume 11, Number 4, December 1995
By Ramona Kessel, Mauricio Peredo, Robert McGuire, and Joseph King

The International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program consists of a suite of spacecraft provided by Japan, Russia, Europe (the European Space Agency [ESA]), and the United States (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]) intended to make coordinated observations of the complex sun-solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere system. Ground data sources plus theoretical and numerical modeling are also included in the overall program. The primary NASA contribution consists of two dedicated spacecraft: WIND, which was launched in November of 1994 mainly to measure the solar wind, and POLAR, which is to be launched in early 1996 to measure in situ fields, particles, and plasmas in the high latitude magnetosphere and to image remotely the Earth's aurora from above. In addition, NASA is funding selected experiments of U.S. investigators that are flying or will fly on other nations' spacecraft. NASA refers to its segment of the ISTP program as its Global Geospace Science (GGS) program.

To facilitate the use of the emerging suite of ISTP data, especially in locating time intervals when the multiple spacecraft are in favorable relative locations and when there are particularly interesting phenomena occurring, virtually all elements of the ISTP program are creating browse products typically called "key parameters."

NSSDC has just received authorization from the NASA Global Geospace Science (GGS) and ISTP program to begin public distribution of ISTP Key Parameter data from NASA-funded and ancillary investigations.

These data include approximately 1-minute resolution observations from (1) all instruments on WIND, (2) the Comprehensive Plasma Instrument (CPI) and Energetic Particle and Ion Composition (EPIC) investigations on the Japanese GEOTAIL spacecraft, (3) the magnetic field (MAG) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) plasma (PLA) instruments on NASA's Interplanetary Monitoring Platform (IMP) 8 spacecraft, (4) the Dual Auroral Radar Network (DARN) and SONDRESTROM ground-based investigations ([except the Polar Anglo-American Conjugate Experiment (PACE)]), and (5) geosynchronous investigations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 6/7 (magnetometer and energetic particle instruments) and Los Alamos National Laboratory's 1989/1990/1991 (plasma and energetic particle instruments) spacecraft. By previous arrangement ISTP and NSSDC (working jointly with the NASA/GSFC Space Physics Data Facility [SPDF]) transfer the ISTP Key Parameters (KPs) into the "near-line" NASA/NSSDC Data Archive and Distribution Service (NDADS) in as little as three to five days of the time of the original measurements.

Potential data users must note that ISTP KPs are preliminary products intended to be used for browse purposes only. Users interested in presentation or publication quality data are encouraged to contact the appropriate principal investigator(s) until such data also become publicly accessible.

The SPDF and NSSDC have very recently developed a new World Wide Web (WWW)-based interface to facilitate retrieval of a wide range of space physics data held in NDADS that include these ISTP KPs and a wide variety of space physics data (including other IMP 8 data products). For details on access and use of this new interface (termed SPyCAT), see the accompanying article "SPyCAT Provides Access to NSSDC/SPDF Near-Line Data" in this issue. Readers are also advised that a further new WWW-based interface allowing graphical display of data from within the full combined set of public ISTP KPs is almost operational and should be available within the next few weeks.

Questions and comments on the availability, access, and appropriate use of these data may be addressed to ISTP and NSSDC/SPDF through Dr. Robert McGuire at (301) 286-7794 or at Questions about space physics data, NDADS, and other services of NSSDC may be directed to any of the authors above or to the NSSDC Coordinated Request and User Support Office (CRUSO) at (301) 286-6695, at, or at FAX number (301) 286-1771.

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]