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Element 84, Inc. - Making Earth Science Easier with Earthdata Search

E84 Research Lab

Making Earth Science Easier with Earthdata Search

Earthdata Search is an open source tool to help field scientists, researchers, engineers, and curious citizens discover, search and access over 400 million records of remote sensing data. This data is used to study the Earth’s systems and includes over 190 collections of near-real time data processed and archived within hours of its acquisition from the satellite.

Earthdata Search is a flagship tool within NASA’s Earth Observation System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) and enables access to data from over 20 NASA spacecraft.

The problem

A tool was needed to help scientists, researchers and software developers easily find and access Earth science data.

The solution

Design a visual search tool with the user in mind, and then build it with open source software.

The services

NASA CMR (Common Metadata Repository), NASA GIBS (Global Imagery Browse Service).


Total number of records in NASA’s Earth Science metadata store

Some background

Element 84, along with other contractors, have been involved with Earthdata Search from it’s conception and have contributed to every aspect of its development from initial specifications and user research, to preparing the codebase to to be open-sourced. Over the last 5 years, Element 84 has helped shape improvements to the user interface, backend systems, and continues to work to bring Earthdata Search up-to-speed with the future of NASA’s cloud-data initiatives.

Earthdata Search was built using open source technology and software–specifically Ruby on Rails and Knockout JS. It utilizes NASA’s Common Metadata Repository to search hundreds of millions of metadata records related to data from Arctic sea ice to land use in North America. Additionally, it can display map visualizations based on that data using NASA Global Imagery Browser Service.

Technology Highlights

We worked on

Cloud Architecture & Data Scaling, Software Engineering & Analytics, User Experience & Design