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NASA Awards $50 Million Contract to University of Colorado-based Center

July 31, 2018

Renea Ericson, a software project team lead for the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center, works Monday in the center's Boulder offices. NASA awarded the center a $50 million contract to fund the archiving and distribution of snow- and ice-related data.

NASA has awarded a $50 million contract to a University of Colorado-based center to fund the archiving and distribution of data on snow- and ice-related topics, as well as other climate issues.

The contract begins Wednesday and runs through May 31, 2023. It will fund the operation of NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center, known as a DAAC. The work will be done through the National Snow and Ice Data Center at CU.

Amanda Leon, the center’s snow and ice manager, said NASA has such archive centers around the country, and they serve an important purpose in disseminating data the agency collects from satellites, aircraft, field campaigns and other sources. The snow and ice center at CU provides data and information on snow, sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets, ice shelves, frozen ground, soil moisture, climate interactions, and the cryosphere, the portions of Earth’s surface where water is frozen solid.

“NASA invests a lot of money into generating this data, and it’s only if it gets in the hands of researchers that it has value,” Leon said. “That is one of our responsibilities. Free and open data access is something that NASA has really believed in and done a fantastic job of doing.”

The archive centers also work to preserve the data for future work, she said.

“We’re trying to help ensure that this critical information being captured about the earth is captured in a way that allows people to use it both now and into the future,” she said. “We worry about preserving the data for generations.”

This is the sixth such contract to fund the snow and ice center at CU, Leon said, and they are celebrating 25 years of partnership between NASA and CU. NASA last awarded a $42 million contract to CU in 2013 .

The new funding will support about 50 people who work on the program, Leon said.

“In terms of the viability and the livelihoods of the people who are here, it’s a big deal,” she said. “It benefits the university in having this large contract with NASA.”

In a NASA news release about the contract award, the agency said it uses the vantage point of space to understand the planet and how natural resources and climate are changing.

Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, cniedringhaus@dailycamera.com

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