600 Workers Back At EROS After Shutdown
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
October 17, 2013 5:37 PM
After 16 days, the federal government shutdown is over and thousands of furloughed workers across the country are back at work. That includes more than 600 EROS workers.
For a lot of furloughed workers, turning on their computer was a piece of cake when returning to work. But, at EROS, making sure a thousand servers, hundreds of which collect data from a satellite, are turned on correctly is no easy task.
The parking lot is full. The satellites receivers are on. The federal government is open again and that means the 609 employees who work at EROS are back at it.
“It was a little bit scary, wondering whether you're going to get a paycheck or not,” said Ryan Longhenry a data management specialist.
As hundreds of servers hum back up to full speed, computer engineers will tell you, turning on hardware that holds petabytes of data isn't as easy as flipping a switch.
“We brought most of them down to a sleep state, like on your PC at home, and bringing things up from that can sometimes be a challenge. That’s just because of the fact that hardware can be finicky when it's been at rest for a while,” said Longhenry.
The information streaming from the two Landsat orbiters never stopped. It was archived in a robotic data collector.
“We had to walk through each of the pieces of the systems. Check error logs. See what error lights are on. See what kind of files has been thrown out, if any. Make sure that everything is updated,” said Tom Kalvlage, the Chief of Coordination and Requirements.
And with 10,000 images beaming down from space a day, EROS workers had to check to make sure every image was analyzed correctly.
“We did not process all the data that came down. We archived it all. We have to chew through it. We have to do quite a bit of science work to make sure that the process we do is scientifically accurate,” said Kalvlage.
That scientific data can be vital for countries around the globe dealing with natural disasters
“Just this morning we had another request to support some fires in Australia. So, we'll start those and finish up some old tasks we had been working on before,” said Brenda Jones, the Emergency Operations Liaison.
The hundreds of employees at EROS hope the government shutdown of 2013 is remembered only as a small hiccup, as they continue to produce information that could save lives.