Record-Setting Disk-to-Disk Network Data Transfer by HECN work at SC14

December 15, 2014

96+ Gbps HECN transfer graph
SESDA’s High End Computer Networking (HECN) Team worked with the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), and StarLight network R&D partners to establish a 100 GigE wide area network (WAN) path between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the SuperComputing 2014 (SC14) event in New Orleans (for details of SC14 see: The HECN team built the high performance RAID servers that were used to achieve a record of 96+ Gigabits per second (Gbps) disk-to-disk network file data transfer rate, utilizing 8 cores and 8 network streams to transfer 2 Terabytes of data. The accompanying figure shows some of the data transfer results during the demonstrations.

A New Tool for Interactive Comparative Analysis of Aerosol Data

December 10, 2014

APSS Statistical Explorer: Interactive exploration of uncertainty in spaceborne aerosol retrievals

Critical data on atmospheric aerosols is constantly being collected from space (by instruments like MODIS, OMI, and VIIRS) as well as from ground stations like AERONET: the Aerosol Robotic Network. A system called “MAPSS” (Multi-sensor Aerosol Products Sampling System) enables scientists to perform comparative analyses of collocated spaceborne and ground-based observations. However, exploring and reporting numerous statistical results generated by MAPSS analysis over a broad range of sensors and hundreds of AERONET stations is a very complex problem.

With this challenge in mind, SESDA 3 scientists and engineers helped to develop an interactive MAPSS Statistical Explorer web tool. All aerosol ground stations are displayed on a Google map. By clicking a given site, a panel pops up showing the values of an uncertainty parameter for all sensors compared to AERONET, with many different options for comparisons. In addition to the statistics presented in the panel, a user can also obtain scatter plots, time-series plots, or relevant data files, enabling further exploration of uncertainties.
The MAPSS Statistical Explorer can be accessed at For additional information about the MAPSS system and data, please refer to the MAPSS ( and AeroStat ( portals in Giovanni.

MAVEN Ready To Sample the Martian Atmosphere

October 21, 2014

MAVEN (Image credit: NASA/GSFC)
MAVEN (Image credit: NASA/GSFC)


On September 21, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered orbit about Mars with a goal to investigate the planet’s atmosphere and ionosphere. SESDA engineers were core to the design and fabrication of components for two of the instruments, the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) and the magnetometer (MAG). Going forward, SESDA staff will support instrument operations and science telemetry processing as well.

SESDA Staff Expose “Jack-o’-Lantern” Sun

October 17, 2014

Pumpkin Sun 2014
An image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on October 8 bears an eerie resemblance to a familiar Halloween sight. “Active regions on the Sun combined to look something like a solar jack-o’-lantern’s face,” said Joe Witte of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The active regions in this image appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy,” explained Witte. He also noted that: “This image blends together two sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.” The report was picked up by CNN and numerous other news outlets. More details are available in a story written by ADNET’s Karen Fox, with additional support from ADNET Senior System Administrator Aaron Lepsch of Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

Heliophysicists Blaze a CubeSat Trail

September 29, 2014

SESDA 3 engineers are supporting NASA/GSFC in developing micro-electronics for a new-generation miniaturized mass spectrometer payload to be launched on a CubeSat. The spectrometer will measure the composition and density of ions and neutral elements in Earth’s lower exosphere and upper ionosphere. The objective is to fly many of these instruments to gather simultaneous multipoint measurements, which is only possible with CubeSat platforms.

Big solar storm hitting Earth (so CNN says)

September 16, 2014

September, 2014 coronal mass ejection

September, 2014 coronal mass ejection

SESDA 3 staff braced for the possible next “big” one – a significant X-class flare erupted on September 10, 2014 and produced two Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s) directed towards Earth. By combining real-time imagery from three spacecraft – SOHO, STEREO, and SDO, staff helped provide accurate space weather forecasts of the speed and intensity of the powerful storms as they impacted Earth’s magnetosphere. Fortunately, the storms did not knock out the power grid and instead generated beautiful aurora at high latitudes.

GES DISC Data Products Show Record Rain in the Florida Panhandle

August 4, 2014

Between April 29 and May 1, 2014, a powerful cold front triggered storms that dropped 10-20 inches of rain over the Florida Panhandle near the city of Pensacola. Areas around the city received almost 24 inches of rain from the intense storms, and the official rain gauge at Pensacola’s airport measured an astonishing 5.68 inches in a single hour before it failed.

The GES DISC used Giovanni-4 to visualize near-real-time data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) to illustrate this historic rainfall event. The image below shows the total rainfall (in mm) measured by the TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis – Real Time (TMPA-RT) instrument between April 29 and May 1. The area with the highest amount of rain (indicated in red and pink) is located between Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay.

Pensacola rain accumulation map - April, 2014

TRMM data are currently available from the GES DISC via the Mirador search engine, and can easily be analyzed using Giovanni-4. The GES DISC shortly will initiate distribution of data products from the recently launched Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

Dusting Off GES DISC Data

June 26, 2014

A massive dust storm covered much of China this past April, turning the air brown and creating health hazards. Much of the data about this monster storm were provided by SESDA 3 scientists and engineers working at the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC), who support numerous missions that provide a wide range of critical global climate data.
For example, a number of near-real-time (NRT) data products from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on the Aqua satellite provide information about the onset of dust storms. The “AIRS Dust Score” is one of these AIRS NRT products. The AIRS Dust Score numerical scale is a qualitative representation of the presence of dust in the atmosphere, and an indication of where large dust storms may form and the areas that may be affected. The Dust Score and other AIRS NRT products are fed to the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE). These NRT products can be visualized using the GES DISC AIRS NRT Data MapViewer and can be overlain with data products from other instruments and satellites in Worldview, an EOSDIS tool that allows users to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data.
AIRS dust storm image
An AIRS image from late April showing the massive atmospheric dust concentrations in China (the large orange and red area on the right side of the map) during the dust storm. NASA image.

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SESDA Staff Help NASA Look to the Stars

June 5, 2014

SESDA staff contributed to developing and testing the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), one of four instruments that make up the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The 1.4 metric ton ISIM is the science instrument payload of the JWST and will help make the JWST the most powerful space telescope ever built. The NIRSpec was installed on the ISIM in April, which means that all instruments making up the ISIM have been integrated.
The NIRSpec instrument will capture light from up to 100 space objects simultaneously and separate the light into its component spectral lines. A key component of the NIRSpec is the microshutter array (MSA), which, along with the Focal Plane Assembly, was developed at Goddard Space Flight Center with support from SESDA scientists. The MSA is what allows the NIRSpec to record individual spectra. Each MSA is a grid of approximately 250,000 tiny doors that can be individually commanded to be closed or opened to allow light to pass through; the NIRSpec camera includes four MSAs. By analyzing these discrete spectral signatures, scientists can derive a wealth of information about an object, such as its chemical composition, mass, distance, velocity, and temperature.
The ISIM consists of four science instruments: The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), and the NIRSpec. NASA image.
The ISIM consists of four science instruments: The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), and the NIRSpec. NASA image.

Additional SESDA staff are joining the ISIM team to support space simulation tests of the complete ISIM in Goddard’s Space Environment Simulator. These tests are designed to see how the ISIM instruments behave in the cold and vacuum of space, and will be followed with a series of “room temperature” tests to simulate the ISIM’s ride into space aboard an Ariane V rocket. Assuming these tests are successful, the ISIM will be delivered for mating with the telescope element in October 2015. The JWST is scheduled for a 2018 launch.

For more information about the JWST mission, visit: or

SESDA 3 team contributes to release of April 2014 issue of The Giovanni News

May 22, 2014

Giovanni News

The April edition of The Giovanni News includes several articles by SESDA 3 team members working at the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC):

Research Highlight: Summer-time lightning activity and its relation with precipitation: Diurnal variation over maritime, coastal and continental areas: The frequency of summertime lightning strikes was examined in terms of three factors: rainfall intensity, strike location (open ocean, coastal, or land), and time of day. The coastal and land locations exhibited larger variations in lightning strike frequency during heavy rainfall and the time of day of highest strike rate compared to the open ocean. Giovanni was used to obtain hourly precipitation rate estimates for this study.

The Hovmöller Diagram – Seeing Geographic Patterns in Earth Remote Sensing Data over Time: The Hovmöller diagram is an excellent way to visualize the change in an environmental variable over time either latitudinally or longitudinally, such as plotting the variability of sea surface temperature (SST) in the Pacific Ocean during El Niño and La Niña events. Giovanni has provided the ability to create Hovmöller diagrams since the system went into operation. This ability has been enhanced thanks to new software developed in-house by the GES DISC team at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Giovanni-4 Development Update – Image Download Capability: Giovanni-4 has added the capability to download images in TIFF format. Prior to this, Giovanni visualization output was available only in the form of PDF files. In the case of Giovanni-4 images, what you see on the screen is not always what you get in the full downloaded image, which can have considerably more information. The TIFF image files provide greater flexibility for using Giovanni output, and easily can be converted to JPG or PNG format.

A full copy of The Giovanni News can be viewed here: