Heliophysics research seeks to understand the nature and dynamic interactions of the Sun, the heliosphere, and the plasma environments of the planets and interstellar space. This research relies on observations – as well as models based on such observations – from a fleet of strategically placed NASA spacecraft, known as the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO). The data from these missions are publicly available through the Heliophysics Data Portal. The collection of this data, along with related documentation, tools, and services is termed the Heliophysics Digital Resource Library, or the HDRL.
NASA HQ provides the vision for the HDRL through the Division’s Data Archive Strategic Working Group (DASWG). The Heliophysics Archiving Strategy document, created by the DASWG, describes the goals and objectives of the continuous effort to evolve the HDRL to meet the needs of the research community.
As technology advances, the heliophysics community continually gathers more data at an ever-quicker pace. To manage such large amounts of information, the Heliophysics Division established a science data management policy in 2007, and continues to revise it as needed. The 2.0 version was published in 2022. This policy emphasizes NASA’s open data policy and the need to archive and curate data in standard formats. To ensure the use of standard formats, the 2022 policy also requires missions to maintain a Project Data Management Plan (PDMP) and a Calibration and Measurement Algorithms Document (CMAD), and for research projects to maintain a Data Management Plan (DMP), all using the templates hyperlinked from this text or the policy document. As NASA moves toward a more collaborative environment, the Heliophysics Division is working to adopt an open source data analysis software model.
Presently, Heliophysics data are managed and curated in two archives, the Solar Data Analysis Center (SDAC) and the Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF), both accessible via the data portal. SDAC mainly archives solar science and remote sensing data. SPDF archives all ionosphere, thermosphere, mesosphere (ITM), magnetosphere, and heliosphere mission science (i.e., in-situ data).
These datasets can be integrated with the physical models that are found at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center, or CCMC. Connecting the modeling capabilities from the CCMC with the Heliophysics System Observatory data provides the foundation not only for obtaining new science, but also brings us one step closer to providing the predictive capabilities needed for forecasting space weather.
More information on the Heliophysics Data Portal, SDAC, SPDF, and CCMC is mentioned below.
The Heliophysics Data Portal, or HDP, is the equivalent of a card catalogue for a comprehensive set of data products. Users can search for datasets using any combination of time, observatory, measurement type, general location, and other parameters, as well as free-text (Google-like) keywords. Once found, the data in question can often be plotted or retrieved directly, and if not, services are provided for data access.
The Space Physics Data Facility, or SPDF, provides plot, download, and direct application access to a large collection of in-situ space physics datasets. Data from different sets may be plotted together, and output datasets may be created to include only desired variables or desired time ranges. Services include orbit graphing and 3-D visualization, access to the popular OMNI dataset of 1 AU solar wind data and related solar and ground-based indices.
The Solar Data Analysis Center, or SDAC, serves as host to many datasets and as resource for finding many others. It also provides links to a variety of very helpful tools, such as the Solar Monitor and SolarSoft Latest Events. The solar science and remote sensing data can be also be accessed through the Virtual Solar Observatory, or VSO. The VSO provides simple interfaces that search by time, data product, product nicknames (e.g., "H-alpha"), and other parameters. It then delivers data files that can then be analyzed using SolarSoft or other routines.
The Community Coordinated Modeling Center, or CCMC, is a multi-agency partnership to enable, support, and perform research and development for next-generation space science and space weather models. It offers access to modern space research models through an automated request system for model runs, runs on-demand, and visualization and analysis tools.