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NASA's Physical Science Informatics Database Now Open to the Public

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015

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At NASA, we are excited to announce the roll-out of the Physical Science Informatics (PSI) data repository for physical science experiments performed on the International Space Station (ISS). The PSI system is now accessible and open to the public. This will be a resource for researchers to data mine the PSI system and expand upon the valuable research performed on the ISS using it as a research tool to further science, while also fulfilling the President’s Open Data Policy.

Since 2001, microgravity experiments have been conducted on ISS in the physical sciences and have yielded rich results, some unexpected and most would not be observed in Earth-based labs. These results provided valuable insights into fundamental physical behavior that can apply to both terrestrial and space environments. Collecting this data in a single location not only provides scientists with scientific data from hundreds of NASA experiments, it also helps identify fields where more study is needed.

Open Science “brings together the community of researchers to define an envelope of experiments that will be conducted and analyzed, leveraging modern high content analytics in the life and physical sciences”, said Marshall Porterfield, NASA’s Director of Space Life and Physical Sciences at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The resulting data from that envelope of experiments will then be used to create experimental informatics libraries that will support many more investigators and funded ISS-derived research. What that does is, it converts what would be normally a single PI [Principal Investigator]  research opportunity into multiple PI research opportunities now and into the future”.

Each investigation will include actual “raw” or minimally processed science data as taken during experiment flight operations on the ISS. This data set is comprised of machine-readable textual or numerical form documents, digital images and videos. The PSI repository also contains analyzed or reduced data by the PI’s science team along with supporting data including science requirements, experiment design and engineering data (including applicable drawings), any analytical or numerical models, publications, reports, and patents, and description of any commercial products developed as a result of the research.

To help build upon the previously conducted research, a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for PSI is anticipated for release in the summer of 2015. The goals are to:  a) promote rapid, multiple investigations resulting in more scientists participating in ISS research, b) allow new areas of research and discovery to occur more quickly through open access, c) accelerate the “research to product” timeline through the rapid sharing of data.

Though population of all data in the repository is not yet complete, new physical science data is being added daily as we work to complete data sets for previously flown experiments in the areas of Combustion Science, Complex Fluids, Fluid Physics, Fundamental Physics and Materials Science. The Biophysics experiments are scheduled but have not yet flown, and thus there is no data currently available in the database. That data will be forthcoming following the completion of the flights. If the data you are looking for has not been loaded yet and you wish to be notified when it is, simply click the “Notify Me” box on the investigation record to receive system generated emails when the investigation record is updated. 

To request access to PSI or to see progress status in a specific scientific research area, please visit http://psi.nasa.gov.  Should you have issues or questions, please contact the PSI support team at msfc-dl-psi-support@mail.nasa.gov.

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