The Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics and the Libre Space Foundation recently received funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to create new infrastructure to support small satellite missions and enable public engagement with space technology.
These efforts are part of the “Space Library,” a new multicomponent initiative at Wolbach that is working to fuel new research by improving access to scientific research artifacts and supporting their reuse. The funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support two specific Space Library projects: MetaSat and the Library Space Technology Network (LSTN).
The Space Library’s first project, MetaSat, will develop and prototype an open metadata schema. This schema will provide both a comprehensive structure and uniform standards for describing research objects produced by small satellite missions so they can be more easily found and used by others. Example schema components include standard ways to document dates, locations, people, datasets, and software.
This schema will subsequently be piloted on SatNOGS, the Libre Space Foundation’s open source network of satellite ground stations (on-ground technology that communicates with satellites). Wolbach Library also plans to install five ground stations at public libraries around the world. These five libraries will be the first participants in LSTN, a public-facing program that will provide opportunities for new communities to engage with and support real space missions. LSTN participants will give feedback on the MetaSat schema and the newly installed ground stations to ensure that even satellite novices are able to use these tools. If the pilot is successful, Wolbach hopes to expand LSTN and develop educational materials to support participating communities.
“I’m elated about this opportunity. We have a unique chance here to partner with people developing bleeding edge technologies while addressing questions that I think are foundationally important to the future of scientific research,” said Daina Bouquin, Head Librarian and PI of the Space Library. “Questions like, how do we link hardware, software, and data so people can fully share their knowledge and experience? Can we develop tools for scientists that are approachable to the public? These questions aren’t specific to space-based science, and I think librarians are strategically situated to help, so I’m thrilled to move forward.”
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
The Center for Astrophysics is a research institute which carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education. The CfA’s mission is to advance our knowledge and understanding of the universe through research and education in astronomy and astrophysics. The CfA was founded in 1973 as a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. The CfA’s main facility is located in Cambridge Massachusetts, with several other facilities around the globe.
John G. Wolbach Library
The John G. Wolbach Library combines the collections of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), forming one of the world’s preeminent astronomical collections.
Libre Space is a non-profit organization and its mission is to promote, advance, and develop libre (free and open source) technologies and knowledge for space exploration. To do so the Libre Space Foundation designs, develops, and delivers space related projects ranging from ground station equipment to global monitoring networks and satellite missions. The Libre Space Foundation is based in Athens, Greece, collaborating with organizations and individuals globally.
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Founded in 1934 by industrialist Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the Foundation is a not-for-profit grantmaking institution that supports high quality, impartial scientific research; fosters a robust, diverse scientific workforce; strengthens public understanding and engagement with science; and promotes the health of the institutions of scientific endeavor.
In order to facilitate this open metadata project the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics and the Libre Space Foundation a grant of USD $390,634.00 with Daina Bouquin serving as project PI.