NASA has a clear mandate for the “widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results” – and the NASA Technical Reports Server is just one example of how the Agency is leading the way in transparency and open data. Constant, worldwide access to historic data and documentation in a single, simple interface demonstrates NASA’s commitment to not only make the material available but make it easily locatable and useful.
The NASA Technical Reports Server provides the public access to NASA’s current and historical technical literature and engineering results. It includes the NACA collection, the NASA collection, and the NASA Image eXchange. Over 500,000 aerospace-related citations, over 200,000 full-text online documents, and over 500,000 images and videos are available through a common interface. The search tool permits refinement by category or through the use of a concept cloud. All information found in the NTRS was created or funded by NASA, and it is unlimited, unclassified, and publicly available.
NTRS logged 3.7 million visits last year and is truly a 24/7 and worldwide. Taking a look at access patterns over a typical week in 2010, one can see that there is no significant fall off in use in terms of both day of the week and time of day. Over a quarter of the traffic to NTRS comes from foreign internet domains, the top five being: United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, China, and Japan. There is no surprise that Google registers as the top referrer to NTRS at 14% after direct traffic. This percentage share rises to 31% after adding in the rest of Google’s international presence. NTRS is also a source to Science.gov and Worldwidescience.org. NTRS has a very strong brand name as shown by top search phases in referring search engines being comprised of “NTRS,” “NASA Technical Report Server,” and derivations thereof.
NTRS promotes the dissemination of NASA STI to the widest audience possible by allowing its information to be harvested by sites using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). OAI-PMH defines a mechanism for information technology systems to exchange citation information using the open standards HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) and XML (Extensible Markup Language).
Ever wondered how interesting the history of the space program is? Here are a few examples of just a few of the treasures found in the NASA Technical Reports Server:
This document is a conference paper entitled, “Suggestions for Popularizing Civilian Aviation,” written by “Britain’s Lady Lindy,” Lady Heath, Sophie Mary Eliott-Lynn, Among these suggestions, is the idea that “in all-metal aircraft smoking is permissible, which is an important item of comfort on long journeys” (p. 12).
Saturn V flight manual SA-503 (NASA-TM-X-72151) (http://hdl.handle.net/2060/19750063889)
The Saturn V handbook was created to provide the astronaut with a single source reference guide for the characteristics and functions of the launch vehicle and is a fascinating reflection of historic NASA work. It also inspired public conversation on Twitter by users who were quite enthusiastic to page through the details for the building, resourcing, usage, and maintenance of the rocket.
Commercial Use of Aeronautical Research: A design approach and selected wind tunnel results at high subsonic speeds for wing-tip mounted winglets (NASA-TN-D-8260) (http://hdl.handle.net/2060/19760019075)
Early NASA research of winglets by Collier Trophy-winner, Richard T. Whitcomb, served as a foundation for commercialized winglets familiar to today’s frequent flyers. Winglets have been attributed with saving over two billion gallons of jet fuel over the years. (http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2010/t_5.html).
NASA’s In-Situ Resource Utilization Project: Current Accomplishments and Exciting Future Plans (KSC-2010-160) (http://hdl.handle.net/2060/20110002954)
From the abstract of this paper analyzing future utilization of space resources: “Over the last four years, the ISRU project has taken what was essentially an academic topic with lots of experimentation but little engineering and produced near-full-scale systems that have been demonstrated. In 2008 & again in early 2010, systems that could produce oxygen from lunar soils (or their terrestrial analogs) were tested at a lunar analog site on a volcano in Hawaii.”
Click here for the Scientific and Technical Information Program homepage: http://www.sti.nasa.gov/STI-public-homepage.html