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OpenAltimetry One-Pager

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posted on 2020-12-07, 15:28 authored by Viswanath NandigamViswanath Nandigam, Borsa, Adrian, Minh Phan, Sirijodha KhalsaSirijodha Khalsa

NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) carries a laser altimeter that fires 10,000 pulses per second towards Earth and records the travel time of individual photons to measure the elevation of the surface below. The volume of data produced by ICESat-2, nearly a TB every day, presents significant challenges for users wishing to explore the dataset. NASA’s NSIDC Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC), which is responsible for archiving and distributing ICESat-2 data, provides browse and subsetting services on mission data products, but the real-time data discovery and visualization needed to assess data coverage and quality in a given area of interest is outside of NSIDC’s mandate. The OpenAltimetry project, a NASA- funded collaboration between NSIDC, UNAVCO and the University of California San Diego, has created a web-based cyberinfrastructure platform that allows users to locate, visualize, and download ICESat-2 photon clouds and surface elevation data for any location on Earth, on demand. OpenAltimetry similarly provides access to elevations and waveforms for ICESat (the predecessor mission to ICESat-2), and the OpenAltimetry API supports data access from external applications such as cloud- based Jupyter notebooks. OpenAltimetry emphasizes ease-of-use for new users and rapid access to entire altimetry datasets for experts, and has been successful in meeting the various needs of different user groups


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NNX16AL89A)