Dozens of missions pour in data every day like rushing rivers -- data that need to be stored, indexed and processed so spacecraft engineers, scientists and people across the globe can use the data to understand Earth and the universe beyond, the agency said.
"Scientists use big data for everything from predicting weather on Earth to monitoring ice caps on Mars to searching for distant galaxies,"
De Jong is the principal investigator for
"We are the keepers of the data, and the users are the astronomers and scientists who need images, mosaics, maps and movies to find patterns and verify theories," he said.
Scientists face three challenges in dealing with the huge amounts of data from space missions, he said -- storage, processing and access.
Rather than build more hardware for storage, engineers are developing creative software tools to better store the information, such as "cloud computing" techniques and automated programs for extracting data.
For processing, JPL has been increasingly turning to open-source software, creating improved data processing tools for space missions.
"We don't need to reinvent the wheel," said
Huge amounts of data, stored and processed, are still of little use if it can't be easily accessed, the researchers said.
"If you have a giant bookcase of books, you still have to know how to find the book you're looking for," said
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