Long-Term Data Preservation Data Lifecycle, Standardisation Process, Implementation and Lessons Learned

  • Mirko Albani ESA
  • Iolanda Maggio ESA
  • CEOS Data Stewardship Interest Group 1:ESA


Science and Earth Observation data represent today a unique and valuable asset for humankind that should be preserved without time constraints and kept accessible and exploitable by current and future generations. In Earth Science, knowledge of the past and tracking of the evolution are at the basis of our capability to effectively respond to the global changes that are putting increasing pressure on the environment, and on human society. This can only be achieved if long time series of data are properly preserved and made accessible to support international initiatives. Within ESA Member States and beyond, Earth Science data holders are increasingly coordinating data preservation efforts to ensure that the valuable data are safeguarded against loss and kept accessible and useable for current and future generations. This task becomes increasingly challenging in view of the existing 40 years’ worth of Earth Science data stored in archives around the world and the massive increase of data volumes expected over the next years from e.g., the European Copernicus Sentinel missions. Long Term Data Preservation (LTDP) aims at maintaining information discoverable and accessible in an independent and understandable way, with supporting information, which helps ensuring authenticity, over the long term. A focal aspect of LTDP is data Curation. Data Curation refers to the management of data throughout its life cycle. Data Curation activities enable data discovery and retrieval, maintain its quality, add value, and allow data re-use over time. It includes all the processes that involve data management, such as pre-ingest initiatives, ingest functions, archival storage and preservation, dissemination, and provision of access for a designated community.

The paper presents specific aspects, of importance during the entire Earth observation data lifecycle, with respect to evolving data volumes and application scenarios. These particular issues are introduced in the section on 'Big Data' and LTDP. The Data Stewardship Reference lifecycle section describes how the data stewardship activities can be efficiently organised, while the following section addresses the overall preservation workflow and shows the technical steps to be taken during Data Curation. Earth Science Data Curation and preservation should be addressed during all mission stages - from the initial mission planning, throughout the entire mission lifetime, and during the post- mission phase. The Data Stewardship Reference Lifecycle gives a high-level overview of the steps useful for implementing Curation and preservation rules on mission data sets from initial conceptualisation or receipt through the iterative Curation cycle.

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