Data and Tools

NASA’s data and tools are free to the public. On this page, you can find:

  • Links to available NASA data and tools
  • Other free data and toolsets
  • Tutorials to get you started

For more general resources that may be of interest, please visit our links page.

And if you are brand-new to working with satellite data, please visit our Getting Started page, which will orient you to the uses, as well as the limits of satellite data.


Flowchart of Resources and Data Products

The Flowchart of Resources and Data Products for Health and Air Quality Applications with an Emphasis on Satellite Data is intended to be a resource for users that are interested in using satellite data but are new to the data products and their capabilities. This document contains a flowchart that will guide users from a general question or need to a specific resource. For brevity this document focuses on the United States, but this resource will be extended to provide data products for global applications. Access it here.

NASA Health and Air Quality Tools

NASA has developed and maintains an incredibly wide array of free data and tools, many of which will be useful to the health and air quality communities. We’ve gathered below brief descriptions, links, and, in some cases, tutorials for the ones that we think will be of most interest to the HAQAST community. This page is intended to help you get started. For more advanced training, consider attending NASA’s Applied Remote Sensing Training program.

We’ve grouped the tools below by the main functions/purpose that they serve. These tools fall into four main categories including Interactive, Learning, Downloading Data, and Helper Code. Even though all tools can be utilized by advanced users, the tools that will be most helpful to beginner users will be found in the Interactive and Learning sections.

 


Interactive Tools

These tools provide users with  a place to play and interact with satellite data. These tools do not require users to download data and serve as a great starting point for users getting into satellite data while also still providing in depth information for more advanced users.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

NASA Worldview: The best starting point for users new to satellite data.

Click to watch a video tutorial on how to use NASA Worldview

NASA Worldview is the best starting point for users new to satellite data and is freely available online. Worldview provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Most of the 400+ available products are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now.” This supports time-critical application areas such as wildfire management, air quality measurements, and flood monitoring.

View current natural hazards and events using the Events tab which reveals a list of natural events, including wildfires, tropical storms, and volcanic eruptions. Animate the imagery over time. Arctic and Antarctic views of several products are also available for a “full globe” perspective. Worldview and Giovanni together will answer the basic needs for most HAQAST applications.

You can view a NASA webinar here, and a short video tutorial here, created by the HAQAST Communications Team.

And here’s a written tutorial (you can find a downloadable pdf here).

NASA FIRMS: Provides near real-time active fire locations from MODIS and VIIRS.

NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) distributes Near Real-Time (NRT) active fire data within 3 hours of satellite overpass from both the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). FIRMS includes a web-based Fire Mapper and a wide range of downloadable data, from fire maps to shapefiles. FIRMS was developed to provide near real-time active fire locations to natural resource managers that faced challenges obtaining timely satellite-derived fire information. A detailed set of FAQs can be found here.

NASA/EPA/NOAA IDEA: Collaboration project focused on improving AQ assessment, management, and prediction.

The Infusing satellite Data into Environmental Applications (IDEA) project is a collaboration between NASA, EPA, and NOAA focused on improving AQ assessment, management, and prediction. It should be of great interest to the HAQAST community. IDEA provides detailed maps of various pollutants (PM2.5, AOD, etc.) over the continental US from different satellites. Detailed tutorials for using IDEA data can be found here.

NASA Giovanni: Allows users to interactively analyze gridded data online without having to download anything.

Click to watch a video tutorial on how to use NASA Worldview

Along with Worldview, members of the health and air quality community will find Giovanni extremely helpful. Giovanni is a web-based interface that allows users to interactively analyze gridded data online without having to download anything. It is a flexible platform that allows a user to average data over time, create a range of plot types and formats, compare variables, and graphically display information. You can also download plot source files in netCDF format.

Here’s a tutorial (you can find a downloadable pdf here), and a short video tutorial here, created by the HAQAST Communications Team.

NASA GMAO: Uses computer models and data assimilation techniques to enhance NASA's program of Earth Observations.

Screenshot of NASA GMAO website. GMAO uses coupled Earth-System models and analyses, along with a broad range of satellite observations, to study and predict phenomena that evolve on seasonal to decadal timescales. The current computing capacity enables GMAO to simulate the entire globe at spatial resolutions previously only possible with regional models. These “global mesoscale model” simulations serve for forefront evaluations of model performance and form the basis for Observing System Simulation Experiments. You can check out NASA GMAO here.

Air Quality Data Analysis Tool: Allows users to view and compare data layers and use analysis tools to get statistics on data values, download data, and animate layers over time.

Screenshot of NASA AQACF toolThe Air Quality Data Analysis Tool allows users to view and compare data layers, use analysis tools to get statistics (min, max, standard deviation, trend, correlation) on data values, download data, and animate layers over time. Available data layers include TROPOMI, MODIS, and VIIR/SNPP Deep Blue.

Immersive Science via Virtual Reality: Developmental project that leverages VR technology to step into simulations to experience scientific concepts.

Screenshot of virtual reality tool.Immersive Science via Virtual Reality is a project in development to leverage VR technology to step into simulations and experience scientific concepts in unprecedented ways and to provide real-time ML-based air quality prediction. View the project preview here.

 


Learning Tools

These tools may include some interactive features, but they focus more heavily on learning about satellite data as opposed to interacting with it. Many of these tools provide more literary material on satellite data and involve viewing/reading about work that others in the field have already done.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

NASA Earth Observatory: Specializes in extremely high quality photographs, charts, and other visual material focused on planet earth.

Earth Observatory specializes in extremely high quality photographs, graphs, charts, and other visual material focused on planet earth. Well known for the Image of the Day, Earth Observatory also provides animated and static global maps, as well as high-quality datasets.

NASA Air Quality: Dedicated to current capabilities of observing air pollution from space using the data for health, air quality, and food security applications.

A comprehensive website dedicated to the current capabilities of observing air pollution from space and using the data for health, air quality, and food security applications. You’ll be able to download maps and images, browse through free data and visualization resources, download various publications, and sample a wide variety of NASA’s air-quality media. This is a great general resource intended for health and air quality managers as well as others who are looking for less-technical NASA resources.

Earth Observing Dashboard: Tri-agency dashboard that combines resources, technical knowledge, and expertise of partner agencies to strengthen our global understanding of the environmental and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screenhot of EO DashboardThe tri-agency Dashboard is a concerted effort between the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The dashboard combines the resources, technical knowledge and expertise of the three partner agencies to strengthen our global understanding of the environmental and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASA MERRA-2: Focuses on historical climate analyses for a broad range of weather and climate time scales and places the NASA EOS suite of observations in a climate context.

The Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2) provides data beginning in 1980. MERRA-2 is a NASA atmospheric reanalysis for the satellite era using the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) with its Atmospheric Data Assimilation System (ADAS), version 5.12.4. The MERRA project focuses on historical climate analyses for a broad range of weather and climate time scales and places the NASA EOS suite of observations in a climate context. MERRA-2 is the first long-term global reanalysis to assimilate space-based observations of aerosols and represent their interactions with other physical processes in the climate system.

MERRA-2 data are available here; the HAQAST community may be particularly interested in the Atmospheric Chemistry data sets. A comprehensive list of datasets can be found here. NASA is in the midst of continuing to develop MERRA-2 and related tools, and more will become available in the near future. You can stay abreast of new developments by signing up for the newsletter.

Earthdata Forum: Forum where data users can ask questions and have discussion with subject matter experts from NASA DAACs.

On the Earthdata Forum, data users can ask questions and have discussions with subject matter experts from NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs). Users can sort questions by keyword discipline, DAAC, major project or services/usage. They read announcements about new releases and updates as well as engage with other users through leaving comments and asking questions. Access the Earthdata Forum here.

TROPOMI: Overview of TROPOMI data and links to download, validate, and begin plotting the data.

If you’re looking for TROPOMI data, there is a nice brief overview of the various products here. Links to download, validate, and beginning plotting the data can be found here.

Tropomino2.us displays NO2 tropospheric vertical column amounts observed by TROPOMI over the continental USA, southern Canada and northern Mexico. It includes daily and seasonal TROPOMI NO2 data, as well as trends over time.

 


Downloading Data

There are a number of different portals through which you can access NASA data. Different interfaces will allow you to subset the data in different ways or even interactively view the data you’d like to download. You’ll need to register with NASA, regardless of which interface you choose to use, but registration is quick, easy, and, again, free.

NASA has put together a detailed primer on how to find and visualize nitrogen dioxide satellite data.

Below are instructions to download NASA data from various sources including GES DISC, Earthdata, and Simple Subset Wizard. GES DISC, Earthdata, and Simple Subset Wizard each use the OMI-Aura instrument as an example, but the instructions hold true for whatever instrument you’d like data from. A pdf version of this tutorial is available here. You can download Simple Subset Wizard here.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

NASA Earth Observation Data: Comprehensive resource that should get users oriented and downloading data quickly.

NASA makes available a great deal of data free to download. There are various ways to search for the data products that you need, and various ways to download it. This site is a comprehensive resource that should get you oriented and downloading quickly.

NASA AERONET: Provides a long-term, continuous, and readily accessible public-domain database of aerosol optical, microphysical, and radiative properties.

AERONET is a large federation of ground-based remote-sensing networks that all focus on aerosols. The program provides a long-term, continuous, and readily accessible public-domain database of aerosol optical, microphysical, and radiative properties. The AERONET web site provides data analysis and dissemination tools. You can also download data. Members of the AQ community will be particularly interested in Aerosol Optical Depth Data Display, the AOD Download Tool, and Data Synergy Tool. Check back soon for a Data Synergy Tool how-to.

NASA AeroStat: Online environment where users can easily visualize and analyze statistical properties of atmospheric aerosol events.

AeroStat is an online environment for the direct statistical intercomparison of global aerosol parameters in which data provenance and data quality can be readily accessed by scientists. Users can easily visualize and analyze statistical properties of atmospheric aerosol events, including data collected from multiple sensors and quality assurance (QA) properties of these data. AeroStat also provides a “Bias Adjustment” option to allow users to adjust the satellite data relative to an AERONET baseline. For more on AeroStat, click here. And for a detailed how-to, visit this site.

NASA LAADS DAAC: Provides public access to a range of data collections.

The Level-1 and Atmosphere Archive & Distribution System (LAADS) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) seeks to provide public access to a range of data collections, including:

The HAQAST community will be especially interested in the Atmosphere Products, the various data available for download, and the tools and services. The LAADS DAAC is an extensive site, and it’s worth spending some time exploring it.

ASDC Tools and Services: Gives users the ability to subset data products by date, time, and geographically so that users only have to download data they need and not entire data sets.

ASDC tools and services including the ability to subset data products by date, time, and geographically so that you only have to download the data you need instead of the entire data set. Broader searches are also possible, the Explore Collections tool is available to search through all ASDC publicly available data and the Earthdata Search allows user to browse and access NASA earth science data. Subseting tools include the ASDC CALIPSO Subsetter, ASDC CERES Subsetter, ASDC MOPITT Subsetter, and ASDC TES Subsetter. Explore all tools and services here.

ASDC SOOT Power User Interface: Easy way to access and download sub-orbital and airborne data.

ASDC’s SOOT (Sub-Orbital Order Tool) is an easy way to access and download sub-orbital and airborne data. It is designed to promote suborbital research and analysis. Here you can discover and access the airborne and field campaign data archived at the Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC). The SOOT Power User Interface is intended for experienced airborne data users and airborne science teams. Data is sorted by campaign and deployment including ACTIVATE, AJAX, CAMP2EX, LISTOS, NAAMES, and ORACLES. You can find the full ASDC SOOT Power User Interface here.

GES DISC: Allows you to specify the specific places and time ranges for which you’d like data.

This strategy allows you to specify the specific places and time ranges for which you’d like data. This is helpful if you if you do not want an enormous worldwide dataset.

  1. Go to https://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
  2. Enter your search term (e.g.: NO2).
  3. Many different results will appear; make sure you find OMI L3 data to get interpreted & gridded data.
    1. Note: L3 signifies that the data has been gridded. Click here for more on data processing levels.
  4. Click on the icon subset/get data. This will allow you to subset your data temporally and spatially

  1. Click Refine Date Range to select the range of dates for which you’d like data.
  2. Click Refine Spatial Region to focus on the area for which you’d like data.
    1. Note: Refining the spatial region automatically populates the spatial subset and vice versa.
  3. Click the Variables dropdown and choose the variable you’d like to download.
  4. Click File Format dropdown to choose the file you’d like.
  5. Click Get Data to begin downloading your data.

  1. Select Download links list. It will save as a text file.
  2. In order to retrieve your data, click Instructions for downloading and follow the instructions that best suit your software.

Earthdata: Allows you to subset data temporally (but not spatially), and look at the data in an interactive manner.

Earthdata also allows you to subset data temporally—but not spatially—as well as to look at the data in an interactive manner.

  1. Go to: https://earthdata.nasa.gov/.
  2. Enter your search parameter (e.g.: NO2, ozone) AND OMI L3 (e.g.: Search “OMI L3 ozone”)
    1. Note: L3 signifies that the data has been gridded. Click here for more on data processing levels.
  3. There will be 3 boxes at the top of the screen; in the case of searching for OMI L3 ozone, select OMI/Aura…Daily L3…at GES DISC

  1. You will be taken to a screen with the data collection you selected. This collection will include all the data available for your product—in this case, daily column totals going back to 10/1/2004.
  2. To temporally subset your data, click Back to Collections.

  1. Add this collection to your project by clicking the green + sign.

  1. To select the specific temporal granules you want, click your data product.
  2. Choose the time range for which you want data by:
    1. Clicking the time selection tool
    2. Entering Start and End times
    3. Clicking Apply Filter

  1. Earthdata can visualize your selected data, during the time period you chose, for specific regions. To do so, find your location by dragging the map and zooming in or out.

  1. Select the area for which you want data by:
    1. Clicking the area selection tool
    2. Choosing which polygon or point you’ll use for your selection
    3. Selecting the area on the map for which you want data.

  1. To download your data, click download data.
  2. To access your data, go to https://urs.earthdata.nasa.gov/documentation/for_users/welcome and follow the instructions that best suit your software.

Simple Subset Wizard: Allows you to easily subset your data by space and time. It has no interactive features.

Simple Subset Wizard allows you to easily subset your data by space and time. It has no interactive features.

  1. Go to: https://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/SSW/.
  2. You can search by keyword (eg.: OMI) or data set (searching by data set assumes that you know exactly which set you want). Search for OMI NO2.
  3. Enter a date range.
  4. Click the map icon to select the area for which you want data.

 

  1. Click Search for Data Sets.
  2. Hover over each data product for a brief description, or click the product to read the details of the set.
  3. Expand each subset to see individual data products.
  4. Select the specific product you want.
  5. Choose your preferred file format.

  1. Click Subset Selected Data Sets.
  2. Click View Subset Results.
  3. Click Downloading Instructions and follow the steps to retrieve your data.

 


Helper Code and Software

These tools are more helpful for advanced users and aid in downloading and manipulating data.

 

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Pyrsig Package: Aids in downloading data to work with analyses in Python.

RSIG3D application windowThis is a Python interface for the Remote Sensing Information Gateway (RSIG) WebAPI developed by Barron Henderson (EPA). RSIG allows for easy access to subsets of environmental datasets, including satellite, modeled and sensor data. The pyrsig package aids in downloading data to work with analyses in Python. This page includes Jupyter notebook examples on downloading TROPOMI NO2, AQS ozone, and PurpleAir PM2.5  https://barronh.github.io/pyrsig/.

Cmaqsatproc Package: Simple way to process satellite data for EPA's CMAQ to help make satellite data comparable to CMAQ.

This tool is a simple way to process satellite data for the EPA’s Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System (CMAQ), to help make satellite data comparable to CMAQ. You can find a poster with documentation here, and read more about the Python tool here.

Air Quality Jupyter Notebook: Demo that is a python tool that walks users through six cases to demonstrate the analysis and visualization abilities.

Screenshot of air quality jupyter notebookAir Quality Jupyter Notebook is a Python tool. The demo walks through six cases to demonstrate the analysis and visualization abilities: 2021 Alisal Wildfire, 2021 California Wildfires, 2018 Carr Wildfire, Los Angeles ports backlog Fall 2021, Fireworks during 4th of July 2022 in Los Angeles county, Air Pollution in the Yellow Sea, 2022 Fire Season in Southeast Asia.

WHIPS: Provides OMI NO2 for the CONUS on a 12km x 12km grid.

If  you’re looking for OMI NO2 for the CONUS on a 12km x 12km grid, Tracey Holloway’s team at UW provides monthly files through their  Wisconsin Horizontal Interpolation Program for Satellites (WHIPS) program. Visit this page for more.

McIDAS-V: Open-source data visualization and analysis package.

McIDAS-V is a free, open source, visualization and data analysis package developed at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The software displays data from a variety of Geostationary (e.g. GOES-16, Himawari) and Low Earth Orbit (e.g. JPSS, MODIS, TROPOMI) satellites/instruments.  McIDAS-V also supports radar, point observation, gridded (e.g. netCDF, grib), and other geophysical data in 2- and 3-dimensions.  The software can analyze and manipulate data with its powerful mathematical functions.

See the Download McIDAS-V webpage for installers on Linux, macOS, and Windows.  The McIDAS-V Documentation webpage includes links to the User’s Guide, as well as a variety of individual tutorials for different data types supported in McIDAS-V.  Please post any questions or comments about the software to the McIDAS-V Support Forums.

Tutorials

NASA Worldview

NASA Worldview is the best starting point for users new to satellite data and is freely available online. Worldview provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Most of the 400+ available products are updated within three hours of observation.

In addition to this short video tutorial you, can view a NASA webinar here, and a written tutorial (you can find a downloadable pdf here).

NASA GIOVANNI

Along with Worldview, members of the health and air quality community will find Giovanni extremely helpful. Giovanni is a web-based interface that allows users to interactively analyze gridded data online without having to download anything. It is a flexible platform that allows a user to average data over time, create a range of plot types and formats, compare variables, and graphically display information. You can also download plot source files in netCDF format.

Here’s a written version of the tutorial (you can find a downloadable pdf here).

The Basics of Satellite Data for Smoke and Fire

HAQAST Outreach Manager Dr. Daegan Miller shares how you can begin using satellite data to analyze smoke from wildfire events. There are two parts to this tutorial. The image referenced at the end of the second video can be found here. Please visit the US Forest Service’s AirFire Research Team at Airfire.org for more information.

NASA Worldview for Fire

This tutorial, led by HAQAST Outreach Manager Dr. Daegan Miller, applies NASA’s Worldview for wildfire and smoke observations. Please visit the US Forest Service’s AirFire Research Team at Airfire.org for more information.

TROPOMI NO2 data

This tutorial led by HAQAST member Dr. Dan Goldberg is an overview of  how to download and read-in TROPOMI NO2 data. There are six 5-minute tutorials. Videos 1 & 2 are more general about NO2 and uses of satellite NO2 data. Videos 3 – 6 in the playlist go through the steps of how to download the data, and which variables in the file are important.

Environmental Justice Tools

NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) is a collaborative team that works in partnership with public health and air quality agencies to use NASA data and tools for the public benefit. Satellite Data for Environmental Justice (SD4EJ) is a NASA HAQAST Tiger Team whose goal is to integrate satellite data into environmental justice (EJ) screening and mapping tools. Satellite data have strength in spatial coverage to comprehensively identify and target EJ communities for investments and remediation. Through the use of satellite data, we can discern differences in heat, pollution, and other environmental hazards within cities.

The project will build relationships among scientists and stakeholders and generate future partnerships to address EJ using satellite and other Earth observing data. We plan to develop a central warehouse for long-term satellite data on multiple environmental exposures. We will also develop algorithms for data mapping and easy linkage with health outcomes and ethnoracial and socioeconomic characteristics at various geographic scales. As environmental injustice extends across multiple environmental risk factors and a range of applied research approaches (e.g. exposure assessment, health risk and impact assessment, geospatial mapping, epidemiology), this project brings together a broad set of HAQAST teams with complementary expertise using many satellite products. Learn more about SD4EJ and get involved here!