Spatiotemporal principles form the core of nature evolution. They have been utilized in a thinking and computing fashion to advance human knowledge from the Eisenstein relative theory to the IBM deep blue in forecasting the spatiotemporal distribution of chess on the board to beat the world champion. Many 21st century Earth, energy, and environment challenges, such as natural disasters, happen in both space and time, requiring that spatiotemporal principles and thinking be incorporated into computing process. Microsoft Research Connections and George Mason University (GMU) form the partnership of the Virtual Geospatial Observatory (VGO) to address the challenges by utilizing domain expertise from GMU and Microsoft advanced computing technologies.

The VGO’s objective is to

  • Facilitate the advancement of Earth, energy, and environment sciences by providing the needed infrastructure and contributing to national and international initiatives, such as EarthCube and GEO.
  • Build cutting-edge solutions, such as cloud computing based GEOSS Clearinghouse, to meet informatics needs from relevant domains using Microsoft advanced computing technologies.
  • Develop innovative technologies, such as 5D visualization tools and spatiotemporal data structure/index, to fulfill scientific requirements from the domains.
  • Advance geoinformatics to meet the information technology needs of the domains.
  • Educate undergraduate and graduate students through summer internships and research assistantships for the future computing and geoinformatics needs of the domains.

Projects conducted and/or contemplated