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Our Vision: Scientists of the future will be both producers and users of data - from their desktops. The move to interdisciplinary Earth science interests is expected to lead increasingly to innovative, multi-sensor and multi-source product generation for both science and applications. An enterprise model to best facilitate the public availability (including intermediate availability of multi-source products to higher-level data producers) of data and information from these geographically-dispersed providers is needed to effect the emergence of an Environmental Information Economy capable of providing for the routine exchange of environmental data and information, enhancing the National Information Infrastructure.

As users of environmental information gain wider and easier access, they will use more of it. Not long ago, most scientists would access a single Landsat scene or two in the course of their research or problem solving endeavors. With the advent of large-scale information management systems, GIS, and low cost computers and storage technology, we are able to utilize massive amounts of data. It is customary to use several terabytes of Landsat 7 and other EOS data. This will mean that older models of data dissemination focused on getting the data to the users will be transformed to new models focused on getting the users to the data. Using internet and web-based analytical tools, users will access large data repositories remotely, perform analyses, and take home only the derived products or the answer to their question. TRFIC will be an early proof of this vision.


Who we are: The Tropical Rain Forest Information Center (TRFIC) is part of NASA's Federation of Earth Science Information Partners. The objective of the Federation is to experiment with and evolve processes to make Earth system science data easy to preserve, locate, access and use for all beneficial applications, including research, education, and commercial, many of which may cross the Federation membership.

The TRFIC is one of several distributed collaborating laboratories and data centers located within the government, universities and the private sector, working collectively to provide enhanced datasets, information products, and services primarily to the Earth Science community but also to other users such as schools, NGOs and businesses.

The ESIP Federation intends to facilitate collaboration by providing a forum that allows for greater communication among the various ESIP types and among scientists involved in related work inside as well as outside of NASA. It also promotes a federated governance structure and interaction via interoperability solutions.

As members of the Federation we support the NASA Earth Science Enterprise. The goal of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) is to further develop our understanding of the total Earth System, including the effects of natural or human-induced changes to the global environment. The program will draw upon the full range of NASA's unique capabilities to achieve this goal. The ESE will also distribute this information to both the public and the private sectors in order to promote productive use of the gathered data.

What is TRFIC: TRFIC is a Science Data Center organized and led by the scientists at the Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative (BSRSI) at Michigan State University in partnership with the Radar Science group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). We are also partnering with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) for development of state of the art web-based GIS services.

As a member of the Federation, the TRFIC provides "domain expertise," value-added products and services to users who need up-to-date information on tropical forest resources - their status, the rate at which they are disappearing, current scientific research results, policy-related issues, and more.

In support of the NASA Earth Science mission, we provide:

  • Low cost access to the largest archive of Landsat data outside the federal government
  • Low cost access to SAR data
  • Derived products in digital formats which depict the spatial extent and rate of deforestation
  • Data broker services for ordering Landsat and other data
  • Mission planning and research enterprise support and services
  • General information services for users who have special data or information needs
  • Special information services, including the Rain Forest Report Card and the Professor's corner

Objectives of TRFIC: We will produce and publish/distribute environmental information and/or provide associated user services in support of Earth system science that will demonstrate, in a working prototype context, new and emerging information systems technologies.

Objectives for Enhancement of Earth System Science Research and Applications:

  • Design reliable and useful data sets by linking the production closely to scientific drivers, applications, or analyses,
  • Increase and improve the number, type, and variety of environmental information products available to the Earth system science and applications research community,
  • Enhance the data quality of climate and global change related environmental data sets to be made available by the identification and removal of random and systematic errors from the data sets, as far as is possible,
  • Enable the progression of Earth system science and applications through prototyping the facilitation of suites of data sets from multiple ESIPs to address specific interdisciplinary or boundary science questions.

    Objectives for Technology Research and Development:

  • Enhance innovation and creativity in the provision of environmental information services,
  • Identify and test new or emerging information technologies, techniques and/or approaches which offer promise of significantly reducing the future costs of EOSDIS,
  • Preserve or enhance functionality of current data systems via functionally equivalent services for lower cost,
  • Format data sets and associated documentation in a form suitable for transmission to permanent libraries or archives.

    Objectives for a Federated Data Access Model:

  • Develop an enterprise model to facilitate innovative, multi-source product location, availability and usability,
  • Provide easy location of, access to, and utilization of data from multiple ESIPs,
  • Provide user services to a large, diverse user community, encouraging collaborative analysis and research,
  • Participate in the evolution of the WP-Federation, e.g. governance structure.

Targets for Success:

We aim to achieve and demonstrate our objectives by:

  • Providing data more rapidly and less expensive than current systems and technologies, with lower error rates and with constant quality improvements,
  • Developing a core data and information system through rapid prototyping, but with one or more alternative architectures using standards,
  • Delivering an automated ordering system as efficient or more so and at lower cost than current ESE systems,
  • Maintaining technology flexibility and adaptability through a process of "rapid redeployment" to other applications areas, primarily in the Upper Great Lakes region,
  • Providing easy, one-stop shopping for mutli-sensor data, supporting the large-volume user,
  • Including data with value-added products and domain expertise -- active linking of data and information,
  • Providing a proof of concept that an ESIP can be built from the ground up by science-oriented groups outside the federal government.

Staff and Points of Contact

A sample of organizations from our user community:

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Woods Hole Research Center
  • Office National des ForÍts/France
  • Conservation & Research Center/VA
  • National Institute of Agro-Envir/Japan
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • UCLA Earth and Space Sciences
  • Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Amazon Network/Brasil
  • BioAmazonia conservation Int.
  • Centro Internacional de la Papa/Peru
  • Laboratory of Forest Management/Japan
  • USDA
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Iwai High School