NASA releases API for Open NASA Data

NASA as part of the Open Government Initiative has been opening up their servers, releasing petabytes of data to the public. This past week they made that data easier to access and use by releasing an API.

NASA has a lot of data. For example, just one mission – the NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) – has stored more then 3 petabytes of data since 2005 in a geographically distributed mass storage system. This is the same amount as the estimated total data size of the Library of Congress. EOSDIS is now downloading more than 7,000 GB a week.  Another mission, the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory(@NASA_SDO) receives 1.5 TB of data per day. That’s roughly equivalent to 500,000 mp3s each and every day.

As part of the Open Government Initiative, the agency is working to improve accessibility to this data and incentivizing the use of government data by citizens. In 2010, NASA provided three new datasets and 18 other tools, widgets and catalogs to – but that was just a start. To address the ever-increasing amount of tools and data catalogs that are publicly available on NASA’s many websites, we have created this directory of publicly available datasets. The directory includes information and direct links to more the 500 datasets, and this is just a small beginning. We’ve initially grouped the data into 9 broad categories and have generously used tags to make the directory searchable.

This is great news for both Open Science as a whole and any Citizen Scientists with a little programming know how.

Via NASA Hack Space



A view from the Cassini Mission

When asked what space looked like, I would probably show you bright and colorful imagery of colliding galaxies and exploding stars likely from the Hubble. But Chris Abbas has turned my view of space on it’s head with his stunning presentation of footage collected from the Cassini Mission.

NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery for Dec 2.

NASA has scheduled a conference for this Thursday at 2 p.m. No details yet, other than that it pertains to the search for extraterrestrial life. Full Press release posted below.

WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website at

Participants are:
-     Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-     Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
-     Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
-     Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
-     James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

For NASA TV streaming video and downlink information, visit:

Photo courtesy of Brostad

NASA Space Settlement Contest (ages 11-18)

Every year NASA Ames and the National Space Society hold a contest calling for students in 6th to 12th grade to design a space colony. I’d encourage anyone that qualifies to enter this contest. For those that dont qualify, we’ll be happy to publish your designs so you can receive community feedback.

Deadline for Entry: March 15, 2011

More Information, Rules, Prizes, Etc.

Photo from NASA Ames circa 1970(collection)