At the 2013 gathering of the American geophysical union held last month in San Francisco, Elsevier and Ieda (the Integrated earth data applications unit of the Lamont-Doherty earth observatory) awarded the first prize in the earth sciences data rescue competition to the Nimbus team of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
The Nimbus data rescue project managed the recovery, reprocessing and digitization of the infrared and visible observations of the Nimbus I, II and III satellites which were collected from 1964 to 1970, along with their navigation and formatting. Over 4,000 7-track tapes of global infrared satellite data were read and reprocessed. Nearly 200,000 visible light images were scanned, rectified and navigated. Data was converted to HDF-5 (NetCDF) format and freely distributed to users from NASA and NSIDC servers.
IEDA director and chair of the judging panel Kerstin Lehnert said, ‘The Nimbus project rescued data of high relevance to climate research, extending the climatic record in the polar regions back for at least 16 years. It involved the development of hardware and software to recover data from decaying media.’ Runners up were OldWeather a volunteer effort to transcribe and curate weather observations from old ships’ logs, a program to remaster nuclear explosion records on 8,000 Soviet-era magnetic tapes and Lockheed Martin Australia’s refresh of 40 year old Landsat imagery. More on the award here.