NASA Earthdata-Openscapes answers a NASA Earthdata call to support scientific researchers using data from NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) as they migrate workflows to the cloud.


Openscapes champions open, inclusive practices in environmental and Earth science to help uncover data-intensive solutions faster. We do this through our flagship Champions mentorship program, as well as through community organizing, training, and coaching, leveraging existing resources from open communities along with our own.

Flywheel Preprint

Our flywheel shows our approach to engaging, empowering, and amplifying research communities in open data science — how we describe kinder, better science in less time. See our preprint: The Openscapes Flywheel: A framework for managers to facilitate and scale inclusive Open science practices

The Openscapes Flywheel: the orange hexagonal logo with 6 parts of the flywheel: Welcome; Create space and place; invest in learning and trust; work openly; leverage common workflows, skills, tools; inspire

Openscapes Flywheel (Robinson & Lowndes 2022). The Flywheel concept was developed by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great. No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

The NASA Openscapes Framework

The overarching vision is to support scientific researchers using NASA Earthdata as they migrate their workflows to the cloud. We are doing this working with NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) over three years by:

  1. Developing a cross-DAAC Mentor community that supports growth into confident cloud data instructors, and create, curate and use shared resources and have a tutorial review process

  2. Empowering science teams to experiment migrating their download-intensive data analysis workflows to the cloud through a partnership with Carpentries and 2i2c

  3. Scaling the Openscapes Champions program with DAAC Mentors to support science cohorts and amplify as many open science leaders as possible, transforming their workflows towards open, kinder science and the cloud

Project Impact Summary (Years 1-2)

NASA Openscapes is a 3-year effort to grow a cross-DAAC Mentor community supporting Open NASA Earth Science in the Cloud. We approach this work as movement building, and developed the Openscapes Flywheel with NASA Earth science data centers, using the concept where transformations occur from relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel that builds momentum over time. The Flywheel supports teams across NASA DAACs to to grow morale and technical capacity across their organizations by (1) Engage bright spots, through welcoming them and creating space and place; (2) Empower a learning culture through investing in learning and trust and working openly (3) Amplify Open science leaders, through leveraging the common and inspiring the bigger movement (Robinson & Lowndes 2022).

Through this work, some highlights of impact to date: (1 Engage): 7 DAACs participating (NSIDC, PO.DAAC, LP DAAC, GES DISC, ASDC, ASF, ORNL); have a JupyterHub and Notebook-Quarto-GitHub workflow for documentation and publishing; have co-created a consistent set of tutorials, teaching style, and mindset; co-led the 2021 Cloud Hackathon and 2022 Champions program; have documented our work through the Flywheel pub and Approach Guide; and given many invited talks & keynotes. (2 Empower): Mentors have led 10 Workshops: internal with DAAC staff and external with researchers; developed the Earthdata Cloud Cookbook; Reused tutorials, slides, graphics and facilitation and open practices; were more aware cross-DAAC, less recreating; from user feedback developed Cheatsheets and the earthaccess python library; wrote the Value of Hosted JupyterHubs (White paper RFI); Collaborating on Hackweeks, 2i2c cont’d access after workshops. (3 Amplify): Mentors are amplifying across-DAACs and beyond: Career advancement & bringing mindset to new places; Speaking up in other meetings (User Needs TIM, TRAIN, Cloud Playground); Connecting & consulting based on experiences - Pathfinder for 2i2c, comparing w/ SMCE; AWS; Engaging beyond (Pangeo Forge, Ladies of Landsat, pyOpenSci).


We are cross-posting news blog posts about NASA Openscapes from our main openscapes.org blog.

Additional blogs about our work:

White Paper: The Value of Hosted JupyterHubs

The Value of Hosted JupyterHubs in enabling Open NASA Earth Science in the Cloud - Nickles et al. 2023.

This is a response from NASA Openscapes to NASA Request for Information (RFI) NNH23ZDA005L: Scientific Data and Computing Architecture to Support Open Science.


Slides, recordings, and posters

Why NASA Earthdata? Why Openscapes?

We are getting these questions a lot, so here is our take.

NASA Earth Science Data Systems missions collect Earth data, including sea ice, physical oceanography, vegetation and many other parameters – data used by researchers around the world for many different purposes, including answering pressing questions in ecology and environmental science. Further, NASA promotes open science – from the NASA Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) program 2020 Highlights report:

Open data are the foundation of ESDS efforts to fulfill the program’s vision of accelerating scientific advancement for societal benefit through innovative Earth science data stewardship and technology development….to leverage the diversity of global Earth science communities to advance open science.

Openscapes’ long-term goal is to enable robust, inclusive, and enduring science- and data-driven solutions to global and time-sensitive challenges. We approach open science as a spectrum, as a behavior change, and as a movement. We see data analysis and stewardship as entryways to meet scientists where they are, helping them develop new skill sets and mindsets while empowering them as leaders. With NASA support, the project team and the partners, the Openscapes Framework fundamentally changes the paradigm for supporting research teams and DAAC mentors, first to work more openly with their teams on the cloud, and ultimately to advance open science!

Openscapes is co-directed by project leads Lowndes and Robinson, and operated at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California Santa Barbara.

Project Leads

Julia Stewart Lowndes, PhD
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)
lowndes at nceas.ucsb.edu; @juliesquid

Erin Robinson, MSc
Metadata Game Changers, LLC
University of Colorado, Boulder
erin@metadatagamechangers.com; @connector_erin

Project Teams

NASA-Openscapes Mentors are a cross-DAAC Mentor community that is co-creating common tutorials, resources, and teaching approaches to support researchers migrating worksflows to the Cloud.

Learn more about the NASA-Openscapes Champions — coming soon.


This project allows us to partner with organizations that share Openscapes’ values of open, reproducible, and inclusive science:

  • The Carpentries teach foundational coding and data science skills to researchers worldwide. Openscapes is joining The Carpentries through this project as a Silver Member, which includes four Carpentries workshops per year and instructor training opportunities to the NASA DAAC community.
  • 2i2c develops, deploys, customizes, and manages open source tools and cloud services for interactive computing in research and education. They deploy community-driven infrastructure, inspired by use-cases such as the UC Berkeley DataHubs and the Pangeo project, that provides easy “one-click-to-cloud” access with Jupyter Notebooks through the web browser designed to reduce the startup burden for new learners, and this approach will also benefit the NASA DAAC community.

Learn More