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1/4/2011
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NASA Open Source Architecture Wins Apache Support

Java-based middleware developed by the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory gets priority-project designation by the Apache Software Foundation.

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A NASA-led project has won the full support of the Apache Software Foundation, bolstering development efforts around Java-based middleware that uses metadata to foster cross-platform collaboration.

Apache has deemed the Object Oriented Data Technology (OODT) architecture, originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a Top Level Project, according to the space agency. This means it is one of a handful of the foundation's open source projects to receive project management and resource support.

OODT was first developed in 1998 as a way to build a national framework for data sharing, but has evolved beyond that for applications in physical science, medical research, and ground data systems, according to NASA.

Essentially, OODT is Java-based middleware that uses metadata to allow end users to simultaneously leverage disparate and geographically dispersed computing and data resources.

The technology's architecture can handle a range of computing tasks, such as computer-processing workflow, hardware and file management, information integration, and database links, according to NASA. The project also includes both Java and Python-based APIs that allow for users to interact with the system.

Among the NASA projects leveraging OODT are the SeaWINDS QuikSCAT project, the OCO/Atmospheric Carbon Observations from Space (ACOS) project, and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission testbed. The technology also is used in Jet Propulsion Laboratory work in fields spanning astrophysics, radio astronomy, and climate change research, according to NASA.

OODT is not the first time NASA has collaborated with the open source community. The core technology for the agency's cloud-computing platform, Nebula, is a contributing technology for OpenStack, an open source cloud computing initiative launched last year.

NASA currently is using Nebula internally to host select projects and expects to expand that use in the future to help it cut back on data center costs. Other federal agencies also may soon use the platform with the same goal in mind.

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