ECHO Metadata Standard


This document defines the Earth Observing System (EOS) Clearinghouse (ECHO) metadata requirements and recommendations for ingesting science metadata into the ECHO system.

For each metadata type, the minimum metadata fields required to validate against the ECHO Ingest schema are outlined. In addition, a list of recommended metadata fields that should be included in data ingested into ECHO is provided. These additional fields will facilitate the searching and ordering of data by the Earth Science community.

The following three metadata constructs are utilized by the ECHO system:

  • Collection - A grouping of science data that all come from the same source, such as a modeling group or institution. Collections have information that is common across all the granules they contain and a template for describing additional attributes not already part of the metadata model.
  • Granule - The smallest aggregation of data that can be independently managed (described, inventoried, and retrieved). Granules have their own metadata model and support values associated with the additional attributes defined by the owning collection.
  • Browse - An image which provides a high-level view of the associated granule or collection metadata item. Browse images are not spatially enabled, but are very useful during data discovery and cross-referencing to other granules or collections.

ECHO receives inventory metadata from ECS’s Bulk Metadata Generator Tool (BMGT) as well as from non-ECS data providers who generate metadata files in the XML format that complies with the published ECHO Metadata Model. Conformance to the model is verified by XML schemas.

ECHO's metadata model was derived from the ECS metadata model with some extensions. ECS data model in turn was developed in parallel to the FGDC model. Metadata conformant with ECS or generally with FGDC can be mapped to ECHO.

ECHO’s metadata model is also being mapped to the core elements of the ISO 19115 standards for ingesting science metadata into the ECHO system and for representing query results produced by the ECHO system. A draft version of the query mapping is available. The final mappings of both will be complete within the 1st quarter of CY2010.


The ECHO Metadata Standard is an approved standard recommended for use in NASA Earth Science Data Systems in January 2010.

Specification document

ECHO Metadata Standard

User Resources

ECHO Data Partner's User Guide v 10.6

NASA Earth Science Community Recommendations for Use


ECHO is a highly successful operational, enterprise-level metadata repository with over 3000 data collections and about 87 million data granules, and currently contains metadata holding exported by all NASA DAACs.

ECHO provides common mechanisms for provider communities to publish their data and service offerings and mechanisms for consumers to discover, understand, and access those resources. This enables ECHO to provide uniform search semantics across provider holdings for users and relieving some of the secondary responsibilities of providers, of supporting discovery and usage of that data.

The ECHO metadata model has its heritage from the well-established EOS Data and Information System (DIS) Core System (ECS) data model and is robust and able to represent most NASA’s earth science data types.


There was one perceived weakness in the ECHO Metadata Model cited.

While this concern had no direct relevance to the metadata model review, a reviewer felt that the use of the Alternative Query Language (AQL) as the primary query language was unwieldy to use. The generation of these XML (DTD) queries was not easy to create automatically and needed an element of manual ‘hand-holding’.


The ECHO metadata model has been optimized for remote sensing data, and therefore may be less suited to other NASA data types currently being cataloged, such as in situ data acquired in field experiments.


From the review community’s perspective, the single biggest hindrance to the adoption of ECHO as a proposed standard seems to have been that this would encourage the NASA earth science data systems community to “standardize” on a home-grown metadata model, rather than move toward an existing international standard for earth science metadata. As one reviewer stated, ECHO “is only used within NASA, and it is optimized for remote sensing data”.

Page Last Updated: May 3, 2019 at 10:01 AM EDT