MCFETCH Provides Free Satellite Archive Data Access for the Unidata Academic Community

SSEC

The Unidata program and the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) have a long history of collaboration and cooperation to serve the needs of Unidata community members. The SSEC Satellite Data Services (SDS) group, which provides access to and distribution of real-time and archive weather satellite data, makes limited amounts of archive satellite data available to Unidata's academic community members at no cost via the “Multi-format Client-agnostic File Extraction Through Contextual HTTP” (MCFETCH) system.

Description
MCFETCH web interface (click to enlarge)

The SSEC SDS archive is one of the largest online geostationary satellite data archives in the world. In 2021, the archive is over 1.5 PB in size, contains data from every GOES satellite and spans 40+ years. In addition, 20 years of international geostationary satellite data are also in the archive.

How it Works

Any Unidata community member with a .edu e-mail address can request access to the archive dataset for non-commercial use. (Please read the community archive terms of use.) Registered users can access up to 1 GB of data per day (with a daily quota of no more than 1000 transactions). Archive satellite data older than 30 days are available.

To access these datasets, community members must register via the MCFETCH registration page. After registration has been processed by SDS, registrants will receive a MCFETCH API key, which can then be used to request archive data.

The following information is required to register:

  • Name
  • Institution
  • E-mail address

With the MCFETCH API key in hand, data users construct a data URL specifying the satellite, band, date/time, location, and other relevant parameters, then use the URL to retrieve the data. The MCFETCH interface provides mechanisms to retrieve data in a variety of formats, including McIDAS AREA format, binary, GeoTIFF, GIF, JPG, list, netCDF, and text.

A properly constructed MCFETCH URL looks something like:

https://mcfetch.ssec.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/mcfetch?dkey=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&satellite=GOES15&band=1&output=JPG&date=20121115&time=20:15&lat=37.21+111.73&size=1024+1024&mag=-2+-2
Description
Click to enlarge

The MCFETCH website includes a web interface that allows data users to interactively build a URL, along with a viewing interface for quick visualization of the requested data. Other parts of the website provide a “wizard” interface that provides a step-by-step tutorial on constructing valid MCFETCH URLs, examples of how to retrieve data from MCFETCH servers using programming languages such as Python, and comprehensive lists of valid parameters for different data types.

Available Data

The SDS Inventory page provides an easy mechanism to search for available data by satellite, date, location, and a variety of other parameters. Visit the Inventory for a complete listing of currently-available data.

Support

Questions regarding data access will be handled by the SSEC Data Center (sds@ssec.wisc.edu). Questions regarding the use of Unidata McIDAS-X, IDV, or satellite data use will be redirected to Unidata Support.

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