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Email Data Flow

Source code: app/email-incoming

Here we document the processing of incoming and outgoing emails in GCN using Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). The source code for incoming email processing is in the app/email-incoming directory.

Note that each flow chart represents the email processing for a single one of GCN's three deployment stages. In each diagram, replace stage.gcn.nasa.gov with gcn.nasa.gov for production, test.gcn.nasa.gov for testing, or dev.gcn.nasa.gov for development.

Circulars Ingestion

Source code: app/email-incoming/circulars

Flow chart of GCN Circulars ingestion

Authorized GCN users can submit GCN Circulars in any one of three ways: by logging in and completing the Web form, by submitting an email to circulars@stage.gcn.nasa.gov, or by submitting an email to the legacy GCN Classic server at gcncirc@capella2.gsfc.nasa.gov.

By Web form

In order to submit a Circular via the Web form, the user must be signed in and must belong to the circular-submitter Cognito group. The subject of the Circular is validated against a list of allowed and disallowed keywords. If these checks pass, then the Circular is accepted, stored in the database, and distributed to GCN Circulars subscribers.

By email to circulars@stage.gcn.nasa.gov

To submit a Circular via email, the user sends an email to circulars@stage.gcn.nasa.gov. When Amazon SES receives this message, it triggers a Lambda function whose source code is in app/email-incoming/circulars. The Lambda function does the following:

  • A copy of the incoming email is saved in an S3 bucket.
  • If the email did not pass Amazon SES's spam and virus checks, then the Lambda function rejects it without further processing.
  • Otherwise, the Lambda function checks that the From: address matches the email address of a user who belongs to the circular-submitter group.
  • The Lambda checks that the subject validates against a list of allowed and disallowed keywords.
  • If all of the above checks pass, then the Circular is accepted, stored in the database, and distributed to GCN Circulars subscribers.

By email to gcncirc@capella2.gsfc.nasa.gov

The legacy, on-premise GCN Classic server at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, capella2.gsfc.nasa.gov, is configured to forward messages addressed to gcncirc@capella2.gsfc.nasa.gov to circulars@gcn.nasa.gov. Once received by Amazon SES, processing proceeds the same as above.

Support Requests

Source code: app/email-incoming/support

Flow chart of support ticket ingestion

We use Zendesk for tracking user support requests. Users can submit support requests through our contact form or (soon) by sending an email to support@stage.gcn.nasa.gov.

We have configured support@stage.gcn.nasa.gov as an external support address for Zendesk:

  • A Lambda function whose source code is in the app/email-incoming/support directory runs for each incoming email addressed to support@stage.gcn.nasa.gov.
  • A copy of the incoming email is saved in an S3 bucket.
  • If the email did not pass Amazon SES's spam and virus checks, then the Lambda function rejects it without further processing.
  • Otherwise, the Lambda function forwards the email to our Zendesk account's system address.

When a GCN team member responds to a ticket in the Zendesk console, Zendesk sends the email from support@stage.gcn.nasa.gov. The stage.gcn.nasa.gov domain has SPF records to permit Zendesk to send emails from this address and to DKIM records to have Zendesk digitally sign messages.

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