NASA Science Data Overview

At NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), our goal is to reach beyond our current knowledge by investigating the Earth, Sun, Moon, other worlds in our solar system, stars and the deep universe. We also conduct experiments on biological and physical phenomena in these different environments to advance our scientific knowledge in ways that both support spaceflight exploration and improve life on Earth.

SMD aims to answer some of science’s most difficult questions:

  • How and why are Earth’s climate and the environment changing?
  • How and why does the Sun vary and affect Earth and the rest of the solar system?
  • How do planets and life originate?
    How does the universe work, and what are its origin and destiny?
  • What can we learn about biological and physical systems by studying them in space?
  • Are we alone?

Data is imperative to answer these questions effectively. Each division within SMD produces, examines, and catalogs significant amounts of data to reinforce scientific objectives and provide scientific findings and data to millions of people. The use of space-based observatories and related assets is the hallmark of all five areas of NASA’s SMD.

Within 5 years, all SMD divisions are predicted to generate more than 100PB of data annually. The expected increase in the Directorate’s archival needs presents opportunities for cutting-edge scientific discover as well as noteworthy challenges in data analysis, management, and access in the future.

SMD seeks to take a more strategic view of its science data systems, including high-end computing, to promote more efficient and effective data management across SMD divisions, as well as enable cross-disciplinary discovery and analysis of science data.

To continue to be on the forefront of groundbreaking scientific discovery, NASA Science has developed SMD’s Strategy for Data Management and Computing for Groundbreaking Science 2019-2024 that will be implemented across the five Science divisions. The strategy is being implemented through the Open Source Science Initiative.