NSSDC Hosts Data Center Directors' Meeting

Volume 10, Number 2, September 1994
by Joe King
NSSDC and its World Data Center-A for Rockets & Satellites (WDC-A-R&S) hosted the annual meeting of the Directors of National Data Centers and WDC-A centers on July 20-21. The meeting was convened by the National Academy of Science's Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, led by Chairman Dr. Francis Bretherton. The International Council of Scientific Unions Panel on World Data Centers was also represented (S. Ruttenberg, F. Webster).

Reports were given by representatives (mostly directors) of six NOAA, USGS, and DOE National Data Centers, plus NSSDC, and of ten related WDC-A sites. (WDC-B, WDC-C, and WDC-D sites are elsewhere in the world.) Also representing NASA, in addition to NSSDC, were Paul Chan of the Goddard EOS DAAC and D. Butler of HQ/OMTPE.

Several issues of common interest to the data center directors were discussed. One, stimulated by Butler's discussion, had to do with a data review and certification role of data centers in today's distributed environment wherein many scientists can and do bring their uncertified data to network accessibility. The linking of the peer review of scientific papers with the review of underlying data sets on which the papers are based was discussed. The certification of data sets was seen as an activity with roles for both the science community and data center staffs.

Another notable issue drawing much attention was the adverse effect on open international accessibility of data needed for global change and other studies resulting from many nations' movement towards the limiting of accessibility to data deemed by nations to be relevant to national security and, increasingly, to national economic competitiveness. This is a particularly serious issue, apparently, in climate and land related sciences, less so in oceanography, and even less so in the space sciences which are NSSDC's primary focus.

During its hour to show its guests its systems, facilities, and services, NSSDC's Joe King took the group of about 30 to Building 28 to see the archive and data operation area, and then returned to Building 26 to show some of NSSDC's online data and information services through both the World Wide Web and the NSSDC Online Data & Information Service (NODIS) interfaces. Of great interest were new Web-accessible images of the effects of the collisions of Comet Shoemaker-Levy with the planet Jupiter. NSSDC's Nathan James played the key role in doing the demonstrations.

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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]