Frequently Asked Questions

What the purpose of MetaSat?

Space mission metadata is not standardized and various mission outputs are typically disconnected. This situation makes it hard for different teams to share information, collaborate, or advise each other on best practices and lessons learned.

The goal of MetaSat is to create metadata and example schemas that can be shared and expanded upon, to facilitate information sharing between small satellite missions.

How are we developing MetaSat?

With input from the small satellite community, we are creating metadata and example schemas based on specific use cases using JSON-LD. You can find out more about our examples and use of JSON-LD on GitLab.

What is metadata?

Metadata is most simply defined as data about data. For example, the data stored in a book is the words on the page. The metadata is information about the book, such as the title, author, page count, publisher, and more. Most books include a copyright page near the beginning, which is all metadata!

Space missions also collect data—for example, the information a satellite collects and sends back to earth. In contrast, the metadata about a space mission might include information about the satellite components, people and organizations involved with the mission, the launch date, or information about any ground stations receiving information from the spacecraft.

What is a metadata schema?

A metadata schema is a way of describing and organizing metadata that makes it easier for people to work with more than one dataset, share information with other people, and search across different systems using tools like APIs. You can find out more about our use of JSON-LD schemas on GitLab.

How can I contribute to MetaSat?

There are three main ways to contribute to MetaSat's development:

  1. Submit an issue directly on GitLab
  2. Make a suggestion through the Schema Sorting Tool
  3. Shoot us an email at
Who are we?

We are a group of librarians at the John G. Wolbach Library, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Can I see an example of MetaSat?

We are working hard to make robust examples so that you can see what our schema can look like when used for both complex and simple use cases. You cans see some examples at our GitLab repository.

What is the Schema Sorting Tool?

The Schema Sorting Tool is a way to think about all of the pieces of MetaSat (in a given context) and to give you with the opportunity to provide your own feedback. Providing this feedback helps us make sure we can fully describe specific use cases. When feedback is submitted, we will translate this (inherently hierarchical structure) into JSON-LD found here on GitLab