SatelliteDL: a Toolkit for Analysis of Heterogeneous Satellite Datasets

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Michael D Galloy and David Fillmore, Tech-X Corporation, Boulder, CO, United States
SatelliteDL is an IDL toolkit for the analysis of satellite Earth observations from a diverse set of platforms and sensors. The core function of the toolkit is the spatial and temporal alignment of satellite swath and geostationary data.

The design features an abstraction layer that allows for easy inclusion of new datasets in a modular way. Our overarching objective is to create utilities that automate the mundane aspects of satellite data analysis, are extensible and maintainable, and do not place limitations on the analysis itself. IDL has a powerful suite of statistical and visualization tools that can be used in conjunction with SatelliteDL.

Toward this end we have constructed SatelliteDL to include

(1) HTML and LaTeX API document generation,
(2) a unit test framework,
(3) automatic message and error logs,
(4) HTML and LaTeX plot and table generation, and
(5) several real world examples with bundled datasets available for download.

For ease of use, datasets, variables and optional workflows may be specified in a flexible format configuration file. Configuration statements may specify, for example, a region and date range, and the creation of images, plots and statistical summary tables for a long list of variables.

SatelliteDL enforces data provenance; all data should be traceable and reproducible. The output NetCDF file metadata holds a complete history of the original datasets and their transformations, and a method exists to reconstruct a configuration file from this information.

Release 0.1.0 distributes with ingest methods for GOES, MODIS, VIIRS and CERES radiance data (L1) as well as select 2D atmosphere products (L2) such as aerosol and cloud (MODIS and VIIRS) and radiant flux (CERES).

Future releases will provide ingest methods for ocean and land surface products, gridded and time averaged datasets (L3 Daily, Monthly and Yearly), and support for 3D products such as temperature and water vapor profiles.

Emphasis will be on NPP Sensor, Environmental and Climate Data Records as they become available.

To obtain SatelliteDL, please visit the project website at