History + Mission

ESIP Federation – Historic Overview (1998-2010)

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP Federation) is a broad-based community drawn from agencies and individuals who collectively provide end-to-end handling for Earth and environmental science data and information. The ESIP Federation was founded in 1998 by NASA in response to a National Research Council (NRC) review of the Earth Observation System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The NRC called on NASA to develop a new, distributed structure that would be operated and managed by the Earth science community that would include those responsible for all elements of Earth observation, including observation, research, and ultimately, application and education.

Beginning with 24 NASA-funded partners, the ESIP Federation's purpose was to experiment with and evolve methods to make Earth science data easy to preserve, locate, access and use by a broad community encompassing research, education, and commercial interests. NASA adopted a deliberate and incremental approach in developing the Federation by starting with a limited set of working prototype projects called ESIPs, representing both the research and applications development communities. These prototype projects were joined by nine NASA data archive centers to form the core of the early ESIP Federation and were responsible for creating its governing structures and the collaborative community it is today. The ESIP Federation began as a distributed organization that is linked primarily by the Internet (i.e., a virtual organization), continuing successfully to this day to provide an evolving mechanism by which the community could voluntarily come together and act to define and serve their collective best interests.

By 2001, the ESIP Federation created a nonprofit corporation called the Foundation for Earth Science (Foundation). Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the ESIP Federation, the Foundation provided management support to the ESIP Federation as it moved from an operational prototype to an independent organization. In 2002, Foundation staff was hired to support the work of the ESIP Federation. The Foundation helped create operating policies for the ESIP Federation and facilitated the development of its first strategic plan, adopted by the ESIP Federation’s Assembly in 2004. The 2004 strategic plan reflected the evolving role that the ESIP Federation sought to play in the ensuing years, reflecting the broadening of the ESIP Federation’s base from its original core to its then 75 partners. NOAA’s data centers joined the ESIP Federation, further broadening its scope and position as a growing community voice.

The 2004 Strategic Plan was intended to raise the visibility of Earth science information and position the ESIP Federation to improve its data and information delivery infrastructure. The 2004 Strategic Plan conveyed a vision that served as an important rallying point around which the ESIP Federation sharpened its focus and continued its growth.

As the ESIP Federation entered its second decade, it became obvious that, as a consequence of its continued evolution, it was time to revisit the strategic planning process. Beginning in July 2007 in Madison, Wisconsin, a Strategic Planning Working Group was formed to develop a new vision of the ESIP Federation in its second decade. This decade will capitalize on the growth of the ESIP Federation and its concomitant diversification of its funding.

The 2008 strategic plan celebrates the special status the ESIP Federation occupies as a 10-year old organization, having employed a variety of tools to facilitate communication and interaction using both traditional and virtual tools. The ESIP Federation is uniquely positioned to respond to the growing need for information to solve the Earth’s pressing environmental problems and the public’s interest in making better use of science information. The ESIP Federation’s strength continues to come from its more than depth of partner organizations, including all NOAA, NASA and USGS Earth observing data centers, government research laboratories, research universities, modelers, education resource providers, technology developers, nonprofits and commercial enterprises. The organization will rely on its internal communities to set priorities for the implementation of the ESIP Federation’s strategic vision.

Beginning in 2009 and continuing to the present, the ESIP Federation returned to its roots and refocused its energy on data and associated technologies. New ESIP Federation communities formed around data preservation and stewardship, information quality, and data visualization. Additional education and societal benefit actives arose in the climate change and energy domains. The ESIP Federation continues to respond to the needs of its partners by addressing timely topics that affect the broader community.

ESIP Mission, Vision & Values

Mission: To support the networking and data dissemination needs of our members and the global community by linking the functional sectors of observation, research, application, education and ultimate use of Earth science.

Vision: To be a leader in promoting the collection, stewardship and use of Earth science data, information and knowledge that is responsive to societal needs.


  • Agility
  • Collaborative
  • Collegial
  • Community-driven
  • Innovative
  • Neutral
  • Open
  • Participatory   
  • Voluntary 

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