A difficulty for many NASA researchers is that often the data to analyze is located remotely from the scientist and the data is too large to transfer for local analysis. Researchers have developed the Data Access Protocol (DAP) for accessing remote data. Presently one can use DAP from within IDL, but the IDLDAP interface is both limited and cumbersome. A more powerful and user-friendly interface to DAP for IDL has been developed.

Users are able to browse remote data sets graphically, select partial data to retrieve, import that data and make customized plots, and have an interactive IDL command line session simultaneous with the remote visualization. All of these IDL-DAP tools are usable easily and seamlessly for any IDL user.

IDL and DAP are both widely used in science, but were not easily used together. The IDL DAP bindings were incomplete and had numerous bugs that prevented their serious use. For example, the existing bindings did not read DAP Grid data, which is the organization of nearly all NASA datasets currently served via DAP.

This project uniquely provides a fully featured, user-friendly interface to DAP from IDL, both from the command line and a GUI application. The DAP Explorer GUI application makes browsing a dataset more user-friendly, while also providing the capability to run user-defined functions on specified data. Methods for running remote functions on the DAP server were investigated, and a technique for accomplishing this task was decided upon.

This work was done by Michael Galloy of Tech-X Corporation for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16021-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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