Thursday, September 22, 2011

Data, data, data

This year's e-concertation meeting is a little different to normal as instead of 10 minute presentations from projects, there's a chance for them to showcase their work in an exhibition.

Among the projects on show this lunchtime was PAN-data ODI, a collaboration of synchotrons and neutron sources such as Diamond and ISIS based at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. PAN-data is trying to set up a common computing structure for all of the collaborators. This would mean that their 30,000 or so users could carry out their experiments at one synchotron, maybe do some additional work at another and then access it all from a third. It sounds pretty neat to us.

ESPAS (Near-Earthspace data infrastructure for e-Science) on the other hand is trying to tackle the exciting sounding-topic of space weather and how this can impact our societies back here on Earth. But to do this we first need to know more about our space environment and be able to predict space weather - activities which both need us to share a lot of data. ESPAS is playing its part in this by improving interoperability between the many instruments involved in these calculations, trying to understand what users expect and working out how to make data understandable to everyone involved.

Another space related-project, which counts the European Space Agency as a partner, is SCIDIP-ES (Scientific Data Infrastructure for Preservation - Earth Science). This project is focusing on long-term preservation of data, such as satellite pictures of earth, and ensuring that they're stored in a way that can be reused in the future. In a nutshell SCIDIP-ES is developing software from another project - CASPAR - to see if it could be used to help preserve earth science data. It's also looking into how this data is currently being preserved and used so it can suggest how to do this in a harmonised way across the whole of earth sciences.

Phew! And that was just three projects. But it goes to show that there's a lot of work being done in the scientific data arena at the moment and still lots more to come.

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