by Jeff Siarto

One of our main missions at Element 84 is to help reduce the amount of time that researchers (scientific and corporate, alike) spend wrangling, downloading, cleaning, and prepping data in pursuit of their primary research question. A recent NASA study put that number at around 60%–leaving less than half of a scientist’s time available for data analysis and all their remaining responsibilities. We know we can do better.

Element 84 and a team of researchers from the University of Washington eScience Institute, in collaboration with scientists and engineers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Anaconda have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from NASA through the Advancing Collaborative Connections for Earth System Science (ACCESS) program to look at new ways of bringing cloud-native data analysis tools to NASAs Earth Observation System. The team will work with the Pangeo Project, a community effort for big data in the geosciences, to develop state-of-the-art open-source tools for cloud-based data analysis.

By 2025, NASA estimates that it will be storing upwards of 250 Petabytes of data on the commercial cloud. This project will demonstrate a new approach, one in which researchers can avoid moving data, and focus instead on building tools for data analysis in a shared computing environment. The Pangeo Project provides the technological and social framework for achieving this shift.

Our goal is to dramatically reduce that 60% and improve the tools scientists use to work with big data. This grant gives us a chance to apply this philosophy to NASA data with proven partners and provides a roadmap for other domains like genomics and disaster response.

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