A new map created by Gary Alcott, a senior data system engineer at the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC), displays the global distribution of users who have accessed the resources of this NASA data center. This map plot is derived based on the latitude/longitude of the resolved locations of unique user IP addresses (the “Internet Protocol”, a numeric code that indicates the network and location of a computer system) over the designated time period.
The size of a dot on the map is based on the fourth-root of the count of the users to a 1° by 1° grid. The dot near Antarctica represents the users whose IP address could not be resolved to an exact geographic location. Blue dots represent users who acquired data within the past year, and yellow dots are users who have acquired data within the past month.
Figure 1. Map of NASA GES DISC user locations derived from IP addresses, for the past year and past month. Users came to the data center from nearly 5000 unique IP addresses during May 2012. Click this image to view it full-size.
As might be expected, the map shows high concentrations of GES DISC users clustered in major urban centers and populated countries. However, the map also shows users in far-flung isolated places, such as Mongolia, central Africa, Madagascar, the Falkland Islands, and even isolated Easter Island. The map indicates we even have at least one user in Greenland! (The geographic locations based on IP address are not necessarily precise; if an address maps to a country and does not generate a latitude/longitude coordinate pair, the map puts the location in the center of the country – as appears to be the case for Greenland). The map emphasizes the importance and usefulness of GES DISC scientific resources to numerous users and research interests.
A second map made without the continental coastlines shows there are now sufficient GES DISC data users in most regions of the world to detect the location and shape of Earth’s continents solely based on where the data users reside.
. Map of NASA GES DISC user locations derived from IP addresses, for the past year and past month, shown without continental coastlines. Click this image to view it full-size.
An interesting comparison can be made between the map in Figure 2 and the NASA “City Lights” image at the link below:
Images and text by Gary Alcott. Editing and online article preparation by James Acker.
The GES DISC is a NASA earth science data center, part of the NASA Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project.
Questions and comments? Email the NASA GES DISC Help Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org