NASA Spinoff

Frameworks Coordinate Scientific Data Management

The ASF placed OODT in the Apache incubator program, a 1-year process during which Mattmann, Apache mentors, and committed collaborators from institutions as diverse as AOL, the University of Southern California, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles thoroughly reviewed the software for open-source use and expanded OODT’s community. In November 2010, OODT graduated as an Apache Top-Level Project—the first NASA-developed software to gain the distinction—and now benefits from the full resources of the ASF, including an Apache Project Management Committee that guides day-to-day operations, product releases, and community development for the technology.

Benefits

Apache OODT version 0.1 is currently available for public use under the Apache Software License. The software is generating significant worldwide interest and contributions while supporting a number of research networks outside of NASA. “If you look at planetary science, Earth science, even cancer research, there’s actually a lot of consistency or similarity in the kinds of software capabilities needed,” Crichton says.

Even before the release of version 0.1, OODT had found users who have employed the NASA-developed software to forward medical research. The National Cancer Institute uses OODT as the foundation of its Early Detection Research Network, unifying multiple laboratories to capture and share research into the early detection of cancer biomarkers. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is establishing a virtual infrastructure for joining pediatric intensive care units across the country, allowing doctors to examine the outcomes of various interventions and make better informed treatment decisions.

These organizations and others will benefit as OODT improves as a result of open-source community contributions, says Mattmann, who is also vice president of Apache OODT. “The dissemination of information happens out in the clear, where others can contribute and weigh in. We get lots of feedback,” he says.

Sharing innovative technology with the public is an impulse that is common to both NASA and the ASF, according to Jagielski, a former Goddard Space Flight Center engineer of 19 years. “It’s all about developing technology that you can then distribute to whoever needs it for the public good,” he says. “It’s a win-win for everyone, because from the taxpayer money that was invested, we now have many groups that are able to use this technology,” says Crichton. He says Apache OODT is already benefitting from the Apache partnership and the contributions of open-source developers. These contributions, he notes, will pay dividends for scientific research in the future.

“The more we can share software, the more benefit we’re going to see in our scientific community.”

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