Today marks 35 years of GRASS GIS development - with frequent releases the project keeps pushing the limits in terms of geospatial data processing quality and performance.
GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is a free and open source Geographic Information System
(GIS) software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis,
image processing, graphics and map production, spatial modeling, and 3D
visualization. Since the major GRASS GIS 7 version, it also comes with a
feature rich engine for space-time cubes useful for time series processing of Landsat and Copernicus Sentinel satellite data and more. GRASS GIS can be either used as a desktop application or as a backend for other software packages such as QGIS and R. Furthermore, it is frequently used on HPC and cloud infrastructures for massive parallelized data processing.
In 1982, under the direction of Bill Goran at the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), two GIS
development efforts were undertaken. First, Lloyd Van Warren, a
University of Illinois engineering student, began development on a new
computer program that allowed analysis of mapped data. Second, Jim
Westervelt (CERL) developed a GIS package called "LAGRID – the Landscape Architecture Gridcell analysis system" as his master’s thesis. Thirty five years ago, on 29 July 1983, the user manual for this new system titled "GIS Version 1 Reference Manual"
was first published by J. Westervelt and M. O'Shea. With the technical
guidance of Michael Shapiro (CERL), the software continued its
development at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering
Research Laboratory (USA/CERL) in Champaign, Illinois; and after
further expansion version 1.0 was released in 1985 under the name Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS).
The GRASS GIS community was established the same year with the first
annual user meeting and the launch of GRASSnet, one of the internet's
early mailing lists. The user community expanded to a larger audience in
1991 with the "Grasshopper" mailing list and the introduction of the
World Wide Web. The users' and programmers' mailing lists archives for
these early years are still available online. In
the mid 1990s the development transferred from USA/CERL to The Open
GRASS Consortium (a group who would later generalize to become today's
Open Geospatial Consortium -- the OGC). The project coordination eventually shifted to the international development team
made up of governmental and academic researchers and university
scientists. Reflecting this shift to a project run by the users, for the
users, in 1999 GRASS GIS was released under the terms of the GNU
General Public License (GPL). A detailed history of GRASS GIS can be
found at https://grass.osgeo.org/history/.
The Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (https://grass.osgeo.org/),
commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is an Open Source Geographic
Information System providing powerful raster, vector and geospatial
processing capabilities in a single integrated software suite. GRASS GIS
includes tools for spatial modeling, visualization of raster and vector
data, management and analysis of geospatial data, and the processing of
satellite and aerial imagery. It also provides the capability to
produce sophisticated presentation graphics and hardcopy maps. GRASS GIS
has been translated into about twenty languages and supports a huge
array of data formats. It can be used either as a stand-alone
application or as backend for other software packages such as QGIS and R
geostatistics. It is distributed freely under the terms of the GNU
General Public License (GPL). GRASS GIS is a founding member of the Open
Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo).