The term "Instrument Data File Set" (IDFS) denotes both software and an underlying concept of a prescribed format for files of scientific data and metadata. The IDFS was developed to satisfy a need, in the space science community, to maintain data and metadata in a format that promotes efficient use of the information and that facilitates access to the information, thereby enhancing the ability of scientists to engage in collaborative research. Within the space science community, the IDFS has become a standard by default.

Metadata, which accompany scientific measurement data, can include information about formats of measurement data, parameters of scientific instruments, calibration tables, tables for conversion of measurement data to scientific units of measurement, timing factors, and other information that does not necessarily originate from scientific instruments but is necessary for research. The IDFS software provides easy access to IDFS-formatted data via a catalog subsystem and data access routines. The catalog subsystem contains information about which IDFS-formatted data are available for use. The data access routines extract IDFS-formatted data in a variety of ways for meaningful presentation.

The IDFS concept and software addresses the deficiencies of other methods for the storage and representation of space science data. Two key tasks that can be performed with the help of the IDFS

IDFS software are the conversion of telemetry values to engineering and scientific units and the registration of each datum with a given point in time; in this respect, the IDFS enables efficient presentation of the data from simultaneous measurements made on different instruments.

This work was done by Carrie Gonzalez, Joey Mukherjee, and Sandee Jeffers of Southwest Research Institute for Marshall Space Flight Center.

For more information, contact the Southwest Research Institute at (210) 522-2010. MFS-31325


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2000 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.