Re: [cf-satellite] About satellite names


I suggest that we follow existing standards for handling this. Our primary inspiration for how to handle this should probably be the ISO 19115-2 metadata standard. It specifies three (at least!) elements for specifying the system used for acquiring or producing the data. In short form they are project, platform, and instrument. The full names are:

     with gmd:MD_KeywordTypeCode="project" (there are actually 3
     different ways you can do this one!)

The Unidate netCDF Attribute Convention for Dataset Discovery specifies the attribute project, and this works together with THREDDS.

At NOAA NCDC, where I work, we have developed a standard for the metadata we are storing in our Climate Data Records Program files. (You can see the entire standard at

As it relates to this topic, our standard specifies the use of attributes named project, platform, and sensor. They have the advantage of being applicable to a much wider variety of systems than satellites. The definitions of these attributes in the standard are (they can all be multi-valued):


   Name of the scientific project(s) for which the data was created.
   Use as needed. If available, select a project name from the NASA
   GCMD Project Keywords list (see PDF reference or copy from TXT).


   Keywords for the platforms that contribute to the dataset.
   Select keywords from the NASA GCMD Platform Keywords list as
   applicable (see PDF reference or copy from TXT).


   Keywords for the instruments that contribute to the dataset.
   Select keywords from the NASA GCMD Instrument Keywords list as
   applicable (see PDF reference or copy from TXT).

Notice that in all three definitions NASA GCMD Keywords lists are referenced. These lists are a set of controlled vocabularies that contain names for many satellites that have been launched (or will be launched in the near future), the instruments that are on those satellites, and for many, many other systems. They also have a system in place for submitting new keywords. I am currently working on producing a netCDF product from NPP-JPSS (project) SUOMI-NPP (platform) VIIRS (sensor) data. I strongly recommend that we use these GCMD keyword vocabularies rather than rolling our own.

You can check out all that GCMD has to offer at their web site ( You can download PDFs of the lists at

Having said all that, the GCMD platform keyword for Martin's example seems to be missing! They have the platform keyword MSG, but no MSG-N, or any METEOSAT-8 or -9. I guess that means no one has submitted them yet, or that it hasn't been published yet. This an be addressed by an interested party at (You must obtain a user account to do so.)

Grace and peace,


On 2/16/2012 10:32 AM, Martin Raspaud wrote:
Hash: SHA1

Hi all,

I'm in the process of reviewing proposals for level 2 product formats
(netcdf/cf) of some european cooperation. In the midst of this come the
question of satellite names.

It seems quite common here to interchange MSG2 with meteosat9 for
example, while only the latter is the commissioning name. So there is
often a mix between pre- and post-commissioning names in the documents I

I know we haven't decided yet on any attributes, but maybe we could
start making some proposals to get things clearer.

So here is a first proposal for an attribute for satellite name:

"satellite": The name of the satellite after commissioning, with a "-"
character to separate series from number if needed. Eg: meteosat-9, goes-15

What do you think ?

Best regards,
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Comment: Using GnuPG with Red Hat -


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