MISO: Metadata for Ionospheric and Space Weather Observations

MISO: Metadata for Ionospheric and Space Weather Observations

Project Partners: GFZ, DLR, KIT

Currently data collection is mostly done by the instrument teams on various ESA, NASA, JAXA and other agency’s missions. Different data products often even from the same satellite mission use different formats and rarely use the standard practices accepted for metadata in more coordinated communities such as atmospheric and oceanic sciences. Moreover, data versions and attributes, instrument PID’s and workflows are not properly recorded which makes a reproduction of the results practically impossible. As a consequence of this lack of standardization both in data access and format, the accessibility and reusability of data provided by satellite missions with budgets of up to several hundred million Euros is substantially limited. As an example, NASA’s flagship Van Allen Probes mission included a number of instruments and each of the instrument teams utilized different

metadata standards as well as different data formats. Reconstruction of historical behavior of the radiation belts is even more complicated as most of the historical data are written in binary codes, sometimes with little documentation.

Similarly, the quantification of precipitating fluxes needed as input for atmospheric models from radiation measurements is often difficult, as relevant properties for the estimation of precipitations’ quantities are either not provided or difficult to obtain. The situation is somewhat similar for ionospheric observational data that are growing exponentially. Numerous ionospheric measurements provided by the GNSS satellites, science missions such as COSMIC I, COSMIC II and now commercial fleets such as Spire provide a vast amount of measurements that are described in various different metadata formats.

Initial efforts have been made to introduce standardization for radiation belt physics. The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Panel on Radiation Belt Environment Modeling (PRBEM) developed the “Standard file format guidelines for particle count rate” for data stored in cdf format. NASA’s Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) makes use of these guidelines for several products but uses different formats for different communities of data providers and stakeholders. The format contains attributes that can hold metadata describing data content, but does not hold information about workflows, nor does it make use of persistent identifiers. For ionospheric sciences, DLR Neustrelitz has pioneered introducing the formats for the ionospheric community during its involvement in CHAMP and GRACE satellite missions as an operator for ionospheric products generation and distribution. Later

DLR’s involvement in several national (SWACI, IMPC) and EU projects such as ESPAS and PITHIA-NRF led to the development of first preparatory standards for ionospheric products. The increasing use of data assimilation and machine learning requiring a vast amount of data from different sources makes this project most timely.

Hauptkontaktperson Yuri Shprits


Shprits, Yuri; Michaelis, Ingo; Dataset “ELFIN-L Level 3 EPD (Electron Losses and Fields INvestigation on board the Lomonosov satellite, Electron Particle Detector). V. 01”; https://doi.org/10.5880/ GFZ.2.7.2023.007.

Shprits et al.; Presentation ”Metadata standards for the radiation belt”, COSPAR PRBEM Meeting, Online, 20.06.2023