European Virtual Environment Observatory ( EVE )

 

 

ABSTRACT:

 

The purpose of EVE (European Virtual Environment Observatory) is on-line delivery of GMES satellite images in response to client needs, without the client having to invest in infrastructure to receive and manage that imagery. EVE would link receiving stations, archival data sets of space- and ground-based observatories, catalogs of multi-wavelength surveys and distributed computational resources necessary to extract user-driven information and build simulations in virtual spaces. EVE will depend on inter-agency cooperation, distributed development, and distributed operations.

 

This horizontal support initiative is designed to supply real time data from space to educators, students, resource managers and conservationists in a manner they can use. It will challenge the public users community, yet provide new opportunities for scientific discovery.

 

 

NEED & RELEVANCE:

 

1. The ongoing data flood in Earth observation, now measured in Terabytes and soon in Pentabytes, opens for users the field of data-mining of digital multi-wavelength surveys, using these data for newly conceived monitoring projects and exploring the vast parameter data space. It is inevitable that the development of real time applications will contain new discoveries and surprises concerning our environment. However, in order to join or develop these valuable resources, a more powerful infrastructure and set of tools are needed.

 

A virtual environment observatory would be a set of on-line, linked, geographically distributed, major digital Earth observation archives, with the software tools and infrastructure to combine them in an efficient and user-friendly manner, and to explore the resulting data sets whose sheer size and complexity are beyond the reach of traditional approaches. It would help solve technical problems common to large digital environmental surveys, and optimize the public use of these resources.

 

2. EVE would provide real time access to powerful new resources to public authorities, scientists and students everywhere, who could do first-rate environmental surveys regardless of their access to large ground-based facilities. EVE would be a powerful educational and public outreach tool.

 

 

SCALE OF AMBITION & CRITICAL MASS:

 

While GMES data will be widely distributed, the large studies at the cutting edge of the science to be enabled will need massive human and computational resources, as well as fast local access to data. Communities of thousands of scientists, distributed globally and served by networks of varying bandwidths, need to extract information from enormous backgrounds via computationally demanding analyses of incoming datasets.

 

While sophisticated metadata standards and access protocols will be required to link together distributed archives and network services, the effort required to interface a small archive to EVE must be minimized to encourage publication of new data collections by the community. Users will need a straightforward interface to the system which makes the location and storage representation of data and services as transparent as possible. To meet this wide range of requirements, EVE needs a distributed system architecture that provides uniform and efficient access to data and services irrespective of location or implementation. The computing and storage resources required will be distributed, for both technical and strategic reasons, across European centers, national centers, regional centers, university computing centers, and individual desktops. The scale of this task, far outpaces our current ability to manage and process data in a distributed environment, requiring fundamental advances in many areas of computer science.

 

EVE will strongly depend on inter-agency cooperation, distributed development, and distributed operations. Data archives will vary considerably in implementation and access policy. Metadata have to describe archives, data collections, and services. A data access layer will provide a single uniform interface to all data and services, and will be used both to link archives and services within the framework of EVE, and to allow user applications to access EVE resources. Query and compute services will provide the tools for information discovery and large scale correlation and analysis of disparate datasets.

Data mining applications, running on a user workstation at their home institution, as applets within a Web browser, or at a major EVE data center, could provide the main user interface.

 

Although the rapid transfer of large amounts of data over common networks is currently unacceptably slow, especially in Eastern Europe, future networks will be much faster. The availability of these data rates, together with the high efficiency of data acquisition at both ground and space based facilities will make possible the efficient transmission of large amounts of data to many different sites. This technology will also enable access to specific subsets of data by an extensive user community that prior to this had no readily available access to these data; the potential scientific yield resulting from this accessibility will be enormous.

 

The advent of Internet has meant that, in principle, quite a lot of highly-specialized services can be performed by professionals many miles away from the contractors of such services. It is why, an other aim of EVE is to explore new technologies required to support the commercial exploitation of satellite surveys, such as e-commerce, e-work and virtual incubators. These are new workplace concepts, developed in the framework of Information Society Technologies, to facilitate collaboration across Europe, linking scientists, companies and public authorities.

 

Given the wealth of real science data EVE will make freely available via the Internet, and the keen interest of the public in environment, EVE will be uniquely suited for education and advancing science literacy. The intrinsic Internet-based nature of EVE lends itself to a variety of high-quality science popularization and education methods with an unprecedented social and geographical outreach. We anticipate that education and outreach professionals (such as educators, popular science writers and journalists, etc. ) would become actively involved in utilizing this remarkable set of resources, creating of popular science websites, course materials (from elementary to graduate school), and sophisticated demonstrations. Schools with modest science education resources would be able to access or develop demonstrations on line. Applet software running in commodity web browsers will permit EVE data to be accessed and visualized by the public, allowing virtual observations to be taken and the resultant data analyzed and interpreted. We expect that a range of outreach partnerships will be developed with EVE as a centerpiece and as a catalyst.

 

 

 

INTEGRATION:

 

Links with other large scale projects. The basic concepts of EVE were largely influenced by such initiatives as: GRID, NVO (the National Virtual Observatory of USA), as well as some projects developed in the framework of EC IST programme.

 

Proposed Action Plan. Phase 0: Prior to EVE project proposal submission.

 

        Develop the conceptual design of EVE;

        Develop relevant position papers and supporting documents which identifies the key goals for EVE;

        Initiate work within GMES participating organizations to ensure accessibility of data;

        Define essential enabling technologies, such as information exchange protocols and metadata standards;

        Establish catalog search and/or image data retrieval capability for selected data subsets at major GMES sites;

        Open lines of communication with the international community concerning EVE initiative.

 

Potential EVE project partners: GMES partners, other national space agencies, environmental organizations, IT companies.

 

Project status: initiative. A Romanian consortium of IT, remote sensing and environmental organizations is involved in a small scale demonstration project concerning EVE. The project is supported by the Romanian Space Agency through the national aerospace programme and aims to become a focal point for the Romanian participation to GMES.

 

 

CONTACT POINTS:

 

Octavian CRISTEA

EVE Project Manager

BITNET Research Centre on Sensors and Systems Ltd.

6 I.Madach str., 3400 Cluj-Napoca

Romania

e-mail: mailto:octavian.cristea@bitnet.info

fax: +40-64-195040

 

Marius I. PISO

Romanian AEROSPACE Programme Manager

Romanian Space Agency

21-25 Mendeleev str., 70168 Bucharest

Romania

e-mail: piso@rosa.ro

fax: +40-3128804