The concept of a NASA-Ames format file originated during the 1987 Stratosphere Troposphere Exchange Project (STEP) when it was decided to collect all the campaign data on a single medium which could be accessed easily by all participants during the campaign. For compatibility only ASCII characters were allowed and every NASA-Ames file had to consist of a computer-readable ASCII header followed immediately by one or more ASCII data tables.
The file header, which is written in computer and human readable form, describes in full detail the properties of the data that follow it such as the units and the scaling, the default values substituted for missing data and the layout of the table (or tables).
Although the NASA-Ames format has been adopted for several campaigns, particularly those involving coordinated aircraft and ground-based measurements, these notes are directed specifically at participants in the ACSOE (Atmospheric Chemistry Studies in the Oceanic Environment) special community programme of NERC. Because of the wide spectrum of measurements being made during this programme and the large number of experimenter groups involved, using NASA-Ames data format holds significant advantages particularly when it comes to early exchange of data. However, in spite of the fact that these notes are intended primarily for ACSOE data suppliers, all users of the format should be able to glean something meaningful from them.
The ACSOE data files conform to the NASA-Ames standard, although in addition, special keywords have been included in the header to simplify the task of creating a file catalogue.
For a comprehensive description of NASA-Ames format see "A General Format for Data Exchange" written by the format originators Gaines and Hipskind and available in PostScript format from /badc/acsoe/doc.
The rest of the information is organised into the following categories: