Common Data Format

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File Format
Name Common Data Format
Extension(s) .cdf
MIME Type(s) application/x-cdf

The Common Data Format (CDF) is a scientific data file format and associated APIs designed by NASA for multi-dimensional datasets, and most commonly used in Heliophysics. CDF was designed and developed in 1984 by the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) at NASA/GSFC. CDF was originally written in FORTRAN, and rewritten in 1990 in C (version 2). In the mean time, netCDF was developed in C, based on the CDF conceptual model. Both models and existing software have matured substantially since, and share common goals. CDF libraries in Java, Python, and C++ have been developed independently, based on the CDF Internal Formats Document. Internal metadata generally follows the ISTP Metadata Guidelines. The NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) adopted CDF with some constraints as an archive standard { CDF-A Specification], with a Guide to Archiving CDF Files in PDS4.



The version 3 examples start with byte sequence CD F3 00 01, the middle ranged versions (2.6 and 2.7) begin with CD F2 60 02 and older versions 2.5 or earlier start with byte sequence 00 00 FF FF.



Sample files


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