Proposals accepted for the NASA ROSES 2006 call for Virtual Observatories for Heliophysics Data (VxO), Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate


 (NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2006, NNH06ZDA001N)


Robert Candey

Dynamics Explorer (DE) Data Services Upgrade



The Dynamics Explorer (DE) mission from 1981 to 1991 was the first (and only) NASA mission to acquire simultaneous data from the magnetosphere and the ionosphere-thermosphere for an in situ study of coupling mechanisms between these two regions. The mission produced many discoveries as shown by its large number of journal articles. Although ending 15 years ago, the data are still in high demand on NSSDC and SPDF's data sites. Some of the datasets are in old formats that can only be analyzed on ancient equipment and software. Others can be read but are difficult to learn to use and interpret. This project will recover and transform these data into modern standard forms with extensive SPASE and other metadata and made available through CDAWeb's FTP, web and plotting/listing services for use with many other mission datasets. This will make DE data visible and accessible to NASA's currently operating space science satellite missions, most of which are already represented on CDAWeb.


Specifically, we will (1) generate high-resolution science parameters (particle fluxes) from the DE-1 HAPI and the DE-2 LAPI telemetry-level SATM data, (2) convert the DE-2 FPI data to CDF (currently offline on old 8mm tapes at NSSDC), and (3) promote DE-1 MAG-A and rest of the DE-2 data to CDAWeb accessibility.


John Cooper

Virtual Cosmic Ray Observatory (ViCRO)



We propose to create the Virtual Cosmic Ray Observatory (ViCRO) to extend planned capabilities of the heliophysics virtual observatories with a collection of important cosmic ray datasets with an initial focus on interplanetary solar and heliospheric science applications. Future versions of ViCRO would eventually address interdisciplinary applications of these data across the solar, geospace, ITM, and heliospheric subdisciplines of heliophysics as well as related science of astrophysics, solar system exploration, and radiation hazard aspects of human exploration of the solar system. Key science drivers for ViCRO include enablement of easy multi-sensor and multi-spacecraft data comparison. Recent work from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) and Voyager spacecraft shows the science value of intercalibrated flux and cumulative fluence spectra from multiple sensors with contiguous energy coverage for data-driven investigation of solar flare and coronal mass ejection events, acceleration and transport of interplanetary particles within the inner heliosphere, cosmic ray interactions with planetary surfaces and atmospheres, sources of anomalous cosmic ray ions in the outer heliosphere, and solar cycle modulation of galactic cosmic rays. We will identify key operational and legacy missions with appropriate instruments throughout the heliosphere and geospace (e.g., L1, polar orbit) that provide relevant datasets spanning the full range of energies, nuclear composition, and atomic charge states per nucleon for solar, heliospheric, and galactic cosmic ray particles. Core operational data sources include the Heliospheric Network (HN) spacecraft. We will collaborate with HN data providers to ensure availability through a common middleware interface to the distributed holdings of providers and the availability of both documentation and science expertise to support the use of data by the heliophysics and other related research communities. Previous SPDF experience with development of intercalibrated solar wind data sets for the widely used OMNI database will be applied to enable user community development of intercalibrated cosmic ray data sets including full differential flux and fluence spectra created from data of multiple instruments. Key approaches enabling intercalibration will be to expand the SPASE ontology to the instrument parameter level, e.g. for energy channel counting rates, pulse heights, and calibrations, so that relevant lower level data sets in instrument units can be identified and integrated, and to implement on-line tools such as matrix browsers appropriate for analysis of such data. We will collaborate with the already-developing Virtual Heliospheric Observatory (VHO) to leverage their software and database approach and to ensure complementarity in the datasets of special ViCRO interest with the already defined datasets of first VHO interest. We propose to add value to these distributed holdings through OMNIWeb-like services that will allow access to multi-spacecraft and multi-sensor data in multiple formats. ViCRO will be designed to enable services specifically keyed to the special properties of current cosmic ray instruments and measurements and science effort to best establish and document relative calibrations and caveats in data usage. The ViCRO Partnership will be led by the Heliospheric Physics Laboratory (HPL) of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Co-Investigator support from the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University, Fundamental Technologies Inc., and the University of New Hampshire. HPL project management, heliospheric science, and VxO data technology staff have long supported implementation and updates of the Space Physics Data Facility, VHO, and related data systems. This proposal is relevant to the Virtual Observatories and general Heliophysics science programs with potential cross-disciplinary relevance to earth and planetary science, and to radiation hazards for Exploration.


Andrew Davis

Data Services Upgrades for the ACE Science Center



This proposal seeks funding to upgrade the data services provided by the ACE Science Center, managed by Andrew Davis at the Caltech Space Radiation Laboratory. The ASC is the science data center for the Advanced Composition Explorer mission. It is the active archive for the nine instruments aboard the ACE spacecraft, and provides ACE Browse, Level 2 and Level 3 data to the community. The proposed upgrades will allow the ASC to continue to provide ACE data in as useful and user-friendly a manner as possible, by using the latest tools and technologies available, and by integrating the ASC data service with the emerging Virtual Observatory system. The specific upgrades proposed include:

- Metadata descriptions of all ACE Level 2 data products that will be compliant with the Space Physics Archive Search and Extract (SPASE) data model

- An Application Programming Interface (API) for the ASC data service that will be com-patible with emerging VxO standards

- Enhanced data subsetting capabilities for the ASC data service

- Improved online data plotting for the ASC data service


The ASC also hosts the Resident Archive (RA) for the SAMPEX mission. A major factor in the decision to host the SAMPEX RA at the ASC was to take advantage of existing ASC services and expertise. The SAMPEX RA would automatically benefit from the data services upgrades that would be implemented under this proposal, as would any other datasets served from the ASC in the future (data from the Low Energy Telescope on STEREO, for example).


Brian Dennis

VxO for Heliophysics Data - Extending the Virtual Solar Observatory to Incorporate Data Analysis Capabilities



The goal of this proposal effort is to enhance the scientific utility of the Virtual Solar Observatory (VSO) by providing desktop software tools. Presently, the VSO provides a Web-based utility for finding data sets using metadata search parameters.  The result of the search is a set of links for downloading the data files.  In order to use the downloaded files, the user must have knowledge about each specific data set and the software needed to read, correct, display, and compare the data.

We propose to provide desktop tools that merge the existing search and retrieval architecture behind the current Web interface to the VSO with analysis and display modules that will facilitate comparing data from different instruments and from theoretical predictions.  These tools will be based on modules that we have already developed for the joint analysis of solar observations.

This proposal is of direct relevance to achieving NASA's strategic objective to "understand the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system." The resulting capabilities of the effort will allow scientists to find and use VSO data more easily and efficiently without worrying about the detailed technical aspects of the individual instruments.

Specifically we will:

- Provide simple application programmer interfaces (APIs) that integrate the existing VSO search and retrieval architecture with corresponding generic analysis and display modules  and instrument-specific data analysis tools;

- Update and expand our analysis and display tools for comparing and jointly analyzing light curves, images, and spectra from different instruments;

- Build interconnected tools to display the availability of VSO data sets in space, time, and energy (wavelength) that will allow scientists to more easily select observations of interest;

- Provide both a command-line interface and a user-friendly graphical user interface to the desktop tools for optimum user flexibility;

- Support the development of GDL (GNU Data Language - a freeware open-source alternative to IDL) to provide a free alternative to IDL for running not only our new desk-top tools, but also the core data handling routines of the SolarSoftWare (SSW) library.


Chakravarthy Deverapalli

Data Services Upgrades: UVI auroral data access to VxO's

U. of Alabama, Huntsville


We propose to increase access to UVI data by providing browse keograms to the existing GAIA auroral VxO and by upgrading the UVI data server to enable web access to its search and data delivery functions.  Specifically, we propose to 1)  generate and deliver a collection of browse keograms meeting GAIA requested specifications for the entire ten-year UVI data collection, 2) add a custom keogram generation tool to the existing UVI data server, and 3) implement a web services architecture for the UVI data server to enable machine-to-machine interaction access to the server functions.  The proposed work will enable users to simultaneously browse ground- and space based auroral images via GAIA.  More importantly, it represents a critical first step to enable inclusion of the full UVI data set in existing or planned virtual observatories.


Natchimuthuk Gopalswamy

Data Services Upgrades:  A Catalog of Halo CMEs from SOHO



The primary scientific objective of this proposal is to identify the solar sources of the halo CMEs detected by the SOHO mission and estimate their space speeds and compile the information in an on-line catalog. This effort will exploit the availability of inner coronal data from several NASA spacecraft such as SOHO, Yohkoh, RHESSI, and TRACE to identify the source regions. The data base will be useful for scientific users involved in Heliophysics research, thereby enabling enhanced scientific return from NASA’s missions. The key aspect of this effort is to provide halo CME source information for easy access across the internet so that candidate geoeffective CMEs can be readily identified.  The proposed work enhances the existing data services at the CDAW Data Center, which participates in the Virtual Solar Observatory.


Glenn Mason

Data Services Upgrade to ensure continued flow of data from the Ultra Low Energy Isotope Spectrometer (ULEIS) instrument on ACE to the ACE Science Center and the VHO



This proposal seeks funding to upgrade data services for the ACE Ultra-Low Energy Isotope Spectrometer (ULEIS) generation of Level-1 and Level-2 data.  This data is provided by the ULEIS science team at the JHU/Applied Physics Laboratory to the ACE Science Center where it is available on-line to the broader scientific community, and will be further linked to the Virtual Heliospheric Observatory.  The equipment used for this processing is a DEC Alphastation pur-chased in 1997.  DEC equipment is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain, with institutions like APL having dropped site licenses and umbrella maintenance contracts.  A failure of this system could jeopardize the science processing of ULEIS for an extended period.   We propose to move the ULEIS processing to an up-to-date system, which will require modify-ing existing software for the basic data processing.  By doing this while the existing Alphastation system still operational, and while ULEIS data is being actively analyzed, it will be possible to better ensure that the new data product is accurate and thoroughly tested.


Natalia Papitashvili

Data Services Upgrades for Heliospheric Data Resident at GSFC/SPDF

Perot Systems


We propose to facilitate access to the heliospheric data holdings of the GSFC/SPDF now accessible via FTP and/or via several independent value-added interfaces (OMNIWeb, COHOWeb, FTPBrowser) by the development of a single integrating interface. The emphasis will be on data uniquely accessible from SPDF including value-added products such as the new High Resolution OMNI and related spacecraft-specific data products, the traditional hourly OMNI data product, other NSSDC-created value-added data products (as those in COHOWeb), and other still important data provided to SPDF or NSSDC over the years and not readily accessible elsewhere. This will benefit researchers seeking heliospheric magnetic field, plasma and energetic particle data directly from SPDF and through VxO's, especially the Virtual Heliospheric Observatory and the Virtual Magnetospheric Observatories. To further facilitate access by and through the VxO's, we will develop SPASE-compliant descriptors at the physical parameter level for the data sets accessible through this new interface. As resources permit, we will extend SPDF-standard functionalities to some data sets not now enjoying them and will make certain upgrades to the widely used OMNI data product.


Larry Paxton

Data Services Upgrades: Augmenting TIMED/GUVI Data with DMSP SSUSI Data



We propose to significantly upgrade and expand the data services for the Global Ultraviolet Imaging Database located at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory ( The major task we will undertake is to integrate data from the Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (SSUSI) instruments flying on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Block 5D3 F16 and F17 satellites with the GUVI data services. These SSUSI data are not otherwise available. In addition we will make improvements to the existing data products, and providing support for delivering products through the Virtual Ionosphere-Thermosphere-Mesosphere Observatory (VITMO). As a part of the proposal we will also upgrade of the existing web service for easy data access, data visualizations, and science analysis of these new and improved data products. The standardized data format and metadata supplied will also allow the data to be accessible from other VxOs for Heliophysics data.

 The major advantage of including the SSUSI data is that two are currently in orbit and operating at fixed local solar times of 8PM/8AM and 6AM/6PM. With three nearly identical instruments we will see a greatly enhanced science return.

GUVI has demonstrated the value of low Earth orbit imaging of the thermosphere and ionosphere. There are two principal limitations of the TIMED platform: 1) the auroral revisit time is 97 minutes 2) the local solar time of the ascending node varies by 24 hours in 120 days. Increasing the number of imagers in low Earth orbit decreases the revisit time for auroral imagery and improves the estimation of the total hemispheric power. Since the observations are confined to a single local time with just GUVI, removing the spatial and temporal ambiguity inherent in observations of the thermospheric and ionospheric signatures is difficult. Adding two other local times will increase our ability to determine the specification of the ionospheric and thermospheric state. The SSUSI on F16 is ideally situated for studying the origin of ionospheric irregularities as its orbit plane corresponds exactly with the local time at which these bubbles are most prevalent (i.e. 8PM). The earlier orbit of F17 (6PM) means that we can study the role of seasonal illumination changes from one hemisphere to the other on the production and growth of these irregularities.



DAYSIDE - O/N2; limb neutral density profiles; exospheric temperature

AURORA - Imagery; Boundary; Flux, Energy, and Hall and Pedersen Conductance

NIGHT - Imagery of arcs and bubbles; Electron density profile


Alysha Reinard

VxO for Heliophysics data: Integration of event lists for ICMEs and associated phenomena

U. of Colorado, Boulder


The scientific objective of this proposal is to bring together the often disparate lists of ICME boundaries and of CME-related quantities in the heliosphere and at the Sun.  The boundaries of ICMEs are determined through various methods and often a single event can have several identified boundaries, indicating complexity within the event that must be investigated more fully to achieve a detailed understanding of the dynamic properties of these events.  In addition, to fully understand the origin and expansion of CME ejecta and the geoeffectiveness of ICMEs it is necessary to understand the nature of and relationship between CME related quantities in the heliosphere (such as shocks and composition enhancements) and at the Sun (such as flares and dimmings).  Studies of these quantities will benefit from a comprehensive list of CME/ICME related parameters.  Therefore, we propose to compile a full list of known CME related events under the auspices of the Virtual Heliospheric Observatory (VHO).  


This project will draw together event lists from the literature and the internet, including ICME and magnetic cloud boundaries, ICME/CME associations, and CME-related phenomena.  In addition, several signatures that are not commonly available will be systematically generated, including temperature depressions, composition enhancements, and shock parameters.  Each of these event lists will be available within the event lists search tab of the VHO.  Within the proposed interface, the user will select search dates and event lists of interest.  The interface will return one or several event lists and the option to go to the standard VHO data interface with the time ranges and some appropriate parameters already selected.  Each item returned will include a reference and a short description of the method used, including historical context and comparison with similar techniques.  These event lists will be delivered to the VHO in SPASE/VHO compliant metadata format.  Algorithms used to generate additional signatures will be delivered as IDL code.


This work is expected to greatly benefit the scientific community by collecting several aspects of ICME-related information within a single searchable interface imbedded within the Virtual Heliospheric Observatory.  A comprehensive list of ICME and magnetic cloud boundaries will facilitate in-depth comparisons between the different methods used for boundary selection and has the potential to improve the determination of these boundaries, as well as shed light on the heliospheric processes which give rise to complex ICME boundaries.  A comprehensive list of CME-related solar quantities, including associated flares, erupting filaments, dimmings and waves, will be equally beneficial, particularly when they can be related to eventual ICME observations.  This project will facilitate in the understanding and prediction of CME dynamics, including detailed aspects of CME initiation, propagation, and expansion.


Aaron Ridley

Integrating VxOs for Heliophysic Data with Model Repositories

U. of Michigan


We Propose to develop a Virtual Model Repository (VMR) that will focus on providing modeling results to the community similar to other Virtual Observatories (VxOs). We will address issues of: (1) the Space Physics Archive Search and Extrace (SPASE) “language” that is used to communicate within VxOs with respect to incorporating modeling results (e.g., grids, versions of code, input parameters); (2) handling extremely large files (subsampling methods); (3) searching for both realistic and ideal model runs tied to data; (4) caching methods for rapid model result reuse at the VMR; and (5) contextual and comparative visualization of data within model results. We will work with model repositories located at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center, the University of Michigan, and the National Geophysical Data Center to start. In addition, we will support dynamic running of models from NASA’s ModelWeb site. Metadata will be produced at each of the first three sites to become fully SPASE compliant, so other VxOs can also seamlessly download model results, while access methods will be created at the VMR for the ModelWeb site, so it appears as if data files exist, when they are actually dynamically created. We will fully support models of the corona, heliosphere, magnetosphere, inner magnetosphere and radiation belts, ionospheric electrodynamics, and ionosphere and/or thermosphere. Because of the complex nature of the modeling results, we will offer visualization services. These will be in the form of: (1) modeling results alone; (2) satellite locations within the context of the modeling results; and (3) direct comparisons between modeling results and data. All data will be automatically downloaded from other VxOs when data-model visualization are made.


Wilbert Skinner

Data Services Upgrade: HRDI MLT temperature, volume emission rate, and ozone

U. of Michigan


This proposal seeks funds to process the High Resolution Doppler Imager (HRDI) data collected from late 1999 until March 2005 and retrieve temperature, volume emission rate, and ozone profiles in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere.  HRDI was an instrument on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) and operated from late

1991 until early 2005.  Spacecraft anomalies that occurred starting in late 1999 have to this point prevented reduction of the data from the last five years of the mission.  These are now well understood and the data can be processed.  The temperature and ozone data complement other data sets such as SABER data on TIMED.  Combining UARS and TIMED data provide a data record more than 15 years long, with a three year overlap that is well suited for inter-comparison.

The data will be converted to NetCDF format and made available to the scientific community either directly through the HRDI web site

( or through a virtual observatory such as the Virtual Ionosphere-Mesosphere-Thermosphere Observatory (VITMO).


Jon Vandegriff

Unified Data Access Services for Virtual Observatories



We propose to tackle one of the hardest remaining problems in heliophysical data integration: unified access to data content. Existing virtual observatories (VxOs) are expected to make great strides towards the discovery of distributed data by offering a uniform way to find diverse data. Our proposed mechanism takes data unification to the next level by providing a way to uniformly access the content within the diverse, distributed data files discovered by a VxO query. The core of our unification scheme involves standardized, intermediate, internal representations for specific types of science measurements. As explained in the proposal, these intermediate representations allow a data unification system to be as efficient as possible while maintaining a large amount of flexibility. Data does not need to be reformatted or served in a new way in order to be included in the unification mechanism. The key product of our efforts will be a unification library capable of reading all the datasets that will be served by the VHO and the VMO. We will also include uniform access mechanisms for some of the datasets served by the VITMO. We are working with the SPASE group to build upon their data access standards, and we will solicit community input and feedback from the SPASE community as well as the VxO user groups. Our unification library will provide not only a data unification mechanism for the named VxOs, but will be able to serve as an efficiently expandable framework capable of providing data content unification to the entire heliophysics community.