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Documentation

Earthdata Login Overview

The EOSDIS Earthdata Login provides a centralized and simplified mechanism for user registration and profile management for all EOSDIS system components. End users may register and edit their profile information in one location allowing them access to the wide array of EOSDIS data and services. The EOSDIS Earthdata Login also helps the EOSDIS program better understand the user demographics and access patterns in support of planning for new value-added features and customized services that can be directed to specific users or user groups resulting in better user experience.

Earthdata Login provides user registration and authentication services and a common set of user information to all EOSDIS data centers in a manner that permits the data center to integrate their additional requirements with the Earthdata Login services. Below is a brief description of services provided by the Earthdata Login.

User Registration

Earthdata Login provides a user registration service allowing users to self-register with the EOSDIS. The registration is provided free of charge to the user. The user needs to set up a user ID, password and provide additional information, such as, user name, affiliation, country and a valid e-mail address, in order to become a registered user.

A user that has not yet been registered with Earthdata Login may be directed to the Earthdata Login registration web page when he/she attempts to access the EOSDIS or a DAAC data service that requires user registration. The user is referred back to the original application after the registration has been completed successfully.

User Authentication

Earthdata Login provides a user authentication interface allowing applications to authenticate a user accessing their data and services before granting access. In response to an authentication request, Earthdata Login will return a response indicating successful or failed authentication. In the case of successful authentication, Earthdata Login returns the user profile information. An application may also re-direct the user to a 'Earthdata Login' login page to perform the authentication and accept the authentication result. Earthdata Login maintains for each site a record of authentication frequency and last authentication making it possible to correlate users with the sites they visit.

How does this affect me?

You'll need to use Earthdata Login anytime you want access to protected content on EOSDIS sites or to order or view data from most of our partners. It's easy to get going with Earthdata Login, though.

  1. First, you're going to want a Earthdata Login profile. You can sign up easily and quickly by visiting the Earthdata Login site. You'll have to supply a valid email address and a few other bits of information, but it's not invasive, your information is never shared outside of EOSDIS, and you get access with that one login to a ton of EOSDIS content.

    Is Earthdata Login safe and secure?

    Earthdata Login is secure, at a number of levels. First, you may notice the "https" in the URL: https://urs.earthdata.nasa.gov. That tells you that when you're talking to Earthdata Login, you're talking over HTTPS, the secure version of the protocol that allows your web browser to talk to Earthdata Login. Second, your password is encrypted in Earthdata Login. That means that even Earthdata Login administrators can't simply open up your record and check out your password–even from the back-end! And third, because when you log into EOSDIS tools and services, you use a form provided by Earthdata Login itself, you're never giving your password to another application... even one you trust!



  2. Now you can use your new Earthdata Login credentials. For example, jump over to https://search.earthdata.nasa.gov/ and click the blue "Earthdata Login" button at the top right:

    Earthdata Search website with the Earthdata Login button in the upper right circled in red

  3. You'll be redirected to the 'Earthdata Login' login page:

    Preview of the URS Login page

  4. Once you enter in your username and password, you're going to see another Earthdata Login screen. It looks something like this:

    Preview of the authentication page

    What in the world is this? Well, it's part of the Earthdata Login workflow, which implements something called OAuth 2. This ensures that your password is kept private, and that you always know which applications have access to your personal information.

    Why does Earthdata Login use OAuth 2?

    OAuth 2 is an approach to authentication that protects your personal information. In a nutshell, OAuth 2 (and Earthdata Login) assume that you don't want any sites or applications–even EOSDIS ones–to be able to access your information unless you tell Earthdata Login specifically that it's OK for those sites and applications to do so! In this case, you have to explicitly tell Earthdata Login, "Yes, it's OK for the Earthdata Search website to access my information... but not my password! Keep that safe and secret, please." You do that by clicking the green "Yes" button.

  5. Finally, you're redirected back to the original application you visited–in this case, the Earthdata Search website:

    Earthdata Search website with the button in the upper right updated to view user profile

    But notice that something has changed: the "Login with URS" button is gone, and in its place is a little greeting. That lets you know that you're logged in, and you can explore the drop-down menu by clicking the little white arrow to get additional Earthdata Login-related options.

    Every time? Really?

    It's easy to think that this process is a bit of a pain, especially if you log into and out of EOSDIS applications frequently. However, you only have to approve an application or website access to your Earthdata Login profile once. After that, the application or website can always access your information, and you'll avoid having to approve it. As you approve the applications you use often, you'll find that Earthdata Login stays behind the scenes much more, and allows you to focus on getting the information you need–without lots of interruption.

User Profile and Password Expiration and Renewal

Earthdata Login does not expire passwords. However, Earthdata Login automatically flags user profiles as expired if they have not been used for a configurable amount of time. The expired status is primarily for filtering reports, and is not used to deny access to data or services. These profiles are considered inactive, but remain in Earthdata Login database. They can be reactivated by administrative staff and can also be reactivated automatically if a successful user authentication takes place.

Users who forget their user identification can request that it be revealed to them by providing their e-mail address. They can also request a new password and a link will be sent to the User's registered email which will provide the user the opportunity to change their password. These requests are automated and will complete without human intervention.

User Profile Maintenance

A registered user can update his/her own user profile at any time by returning to the EOSDIS Earthdata Login registration page and logging in. All of the user profile attributes are subject to update except for the user ID. Users will be notified via e-mail of changes to their profile. Note that profile updates will not affect user profile information already being cached by an application until the user is re-authenticated by the application.

Single Sign-On

In Earthdata Login version 4.0, a single-sign-on (SSO) capability is provided by implementing OAuth 2 protocols. The SSO capability will enable a registered user to log into Earthdata Login once and access multiple applications that are integrated with Earthdata Login services without having to log in for each application. For more information on Earthdata Login and SSO you might want to check out Earthdata Login SSO.

So then what about...

There's lots more to learn about Earthdata Login and how it interacts with the EOSDIS systems you use. If you have general questions, you might want to check out our helpful Earthdata Login Frequently Asked Questions. You can also always email the EOSDIS support team at support@earthdata.nasa.gov.