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23 November 2011, 11:59

European Space Agency looks to open source more code

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ESA logo The European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to promote more collaboration by open sourcing more of its software where possible. The effort is one of the facets of a recent case study of ESA by the Open Source Observatory and Repository ( ESA produces software for its own use to, for example, evaluate and analyse data from its missions. Software it has already released under open source licenses includes POLSARPRO, a tool package for manipulating polarmetric data, BEAM, a platform for analysing remote sensing raster data, and NEST, used for analysing mission data archives.

However, ESA has found, from experience, that open sourcing code is "far from easy", due to funding contract requirements and the involvement of third party contractors. ESA is looking at ways to manage its development process to ensure that it can verify the exact licensing status – proprietary and open source – of every part of the code they use to ensure it will not breach any licence terms if it goes on to release an application under an open source licence. According to OSOR, ESA is considering a source code tracking system to automate that process. Although it currently tends to use open source licences for earth observation and sciences, it is looking to expand their use to other types of application.


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