Satellite Needs Working Group 

 SNWG

Connecting federal agencies with the NASA data they need to fulfill their responsibilities

Federal agencies use Earth observation data in scores of ways that affect and benefit our lives every day. Government agencies monitor water quality, respond to natural disasters, maintain our national parks, model and predict the weather, protect wildlife habitat, forecast air quality, monitor our natural resources, and much more. Each of these services requires Earth observation data, but how do agencies find the data they need? How does NASA know whether its satellites are providing the data that meets these agencies' needs?

The Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) surveys federal agencies every two years to find out what Earth observation data they need to fulfill their mission. The SNWG is part of the U.S. Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) and includes members from various federal agencies that use Earth observation data. After receiving the survey responses, a NASA program scientist follows up with each agency to share information about new or upcoming satellite missions that may meet their needs. NASA also analyzes whether multiple agencies need the same kind of information, such as land surface reflectance or surface water identification. If multiple agencies need the same information, NASA considers development of new data products to meet those needs.

IMPACT’s work with the Satellite Needs Working Group has multiple goals:

Refine the SNWG survey to better capture agency needs

The IMPACT SNWG team used lessons learned from the 2018 survey to revise the 2020 survey to more fully capture the needs of each agency. New questions were added to find out what difficulties the agencies have in accessing and using NASA data.

Partially automate the survey assessment process

IMPACT is currently building a database that combines satellite and instrument measurement characteristics and applications from multiple information sources including CEOS, OSCAR, and CMR. This database will allow us to start from user data requirements and identify specific data resources that help meet that need.

Track agency and user needs over time

IMPACT is developing a database to track what Earth observation data each agency needs and what data NASA recommends for that need. This database will help us identify how agency needs evolve over time and see how the new data products developed during the SNWG process help agencies fulfill their responsibilities.

IMPACT will also be building a database with information on the needs of NASA data users, including other federal agencies as well as individuals who use NASA Earth data for their research or applications. Analyzing the information in this database will help NASA better meet the needs of data users.

Program details

Latest Happenings

The latest SNWG agency survey was gathered during summer 2020, and the results will be available to NASA in October. We will use our new satellite database to create a candidate list of satellites, instruments, and datasets that help meet each agency’s need. We will also be doing detailed analysis of the survey results to see how agency needs are changing and whether multiple agencies need the same kind of data.

Presentations and Publications

IMPACT blog: Connecting to the Data You Need

Coming Soon

We have submitted an abstract on the new satellite database and data discovery pipeline to the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Check back later for more information about our presentation!


IMPACT’s SNWG team members have backgrounds in Earth science, programming and database development, and in the use of satellite data to address research problems.