Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Update On My Attempts To Get AIRS and UAH Source Code

UAH Source Code
I noted in this post that Dr. Christy of UAH had told me he was working with John Bates of NOAA to make UAH source code available. Following a suggestion by lucia from The Blackboard, I wrote to Mr. Bates asking him the status of the project.

Mr. Bates mistook me for a member of Dr. Christy's team, and therefore I don't think I should share his exact quotes with the world on a blog. I will say, however, that he confirmed the existence of the project and indicated that it is in its very early stages with no ETA at this time.

So it may be some time before we see UAH source code, but they are working on it.

AIRS Source Code
Recall from this previous post that AIRS tried to hide behind the International Traffic in Arms Regulations" (ITAR) as an excuse not to provide me their source code. My response to them was that I am a U.S. citizen with no plans to export the code, and therefore not covered by ITAR.

The AIRS Science Team Member I had been talking to forwarded the e-mail to someone else at NASA, apparently not on AIRS. Here's what they said.

the AIRS Product Generation Executable (PGE) software has not been cleared for public release for a variety of reasons.  It is available only to the members of the AIRS Science Team and those directly working for the AIRS Project.  Algorithms and validation results are published in the peer reviewed literature.  Data products and executable software are available as mentioned below.  Please see links below.

May I ask what your need is for the source code?  Perhaps there is some other way we can be of assistance?
So it seems I've gotten past the bogus ITAR claim and now they are hand waving with the excuse of "a variety of reasons" why the code couldn't possibly be made available to the public.

So I wrote them back, giving reason why only the source code can do what I need and asking them to specifically list what the "variety of reasons" are.

I intend to use the source code for personal education, mostly of items not covered in the literature, yet found in the data supplied by the AQUA team and other sources. 

As an example, the file AIRS.2010.01.01.240.L1B.AMSU_Rad.v5.0.0.0.G10005063822.hdf contains scan data on channel 5 that exceeds the limits of expected values defined in "The Limb Adjustment of AMSU-A Observations: Methodology and Validation". I'd like to know how the software handles such unexpected values and cannot learn that from the literature. The literature never expected such values and therefore does not cover how to handle them. Similarly, I cannot tell by running pre-compiled executables what happens when such unexpected values are encountered. Only the source code can tell me.

This is one example. There are others, such as experimenting with replacing the statistical error correction algorithms with algorithms that use deterministic data from other sources, such as cosmic ray monitors from Haleakala, Climax, Hermanus, South Africa, McMurdo, Inuvik, and other stations. I cannot get reliable results that can be meaningfully compared to existing products by attempting to reverse engineer the source code from the literature, nor can I use pre-compiled binaries for this purpose.

So I hope that you can help me in this area. As I told Mr. _______, I am a U.S. citizen and have no intention of exporting this code.

Can I ask you, sir, to list in detail what you mean when you say a "variety of reasons" exist that prevent a U.S. taxpayer from seeing computer code to process weather information that was created by funding from U.S. taxpayers? What exactly are these reasons?

Thank you for your time and help with this.

We'll see what they say.

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