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Science Archives in the 21st Century


T6 - NASA Planetary Data System - Structure, Mission Interfaces and Distribution

Reta Beebe, New Mexico State University

Topic - The structure and operation of planetary archiving within the NASA Planetary Science Division

The Planetary Data System (PDS) is a distributed system of discipline and support nodes. The discipline nodes represent traditional areas of scientific investigation and provide assistance for both data providers and users while the support nodes provide expertise and ancillary information that is used across the system. The Program Manager, Program Scientist and Management Council, composed of representatives from all nodes, share management duties.

To satisfy the goals of the Planetary Science Division, NASA utilizes a range of missions of different complexity. Flagships, PI led missions, and missions in the Mars Program present a wide range of challenges that are amplified by NASA's policy to compete missions or instruments, generating a changing community and wide range of expertise among data providers. Combinations of NASA funded teams based at individual institutions, internationally supplied instruments and the ensuing variable funding and physical locations of the teams further complicate data pipeline planning and development. As this process has developed, it has become apparent that imbedding PDS personnel within a mission is an effective way to insure that an efficient pipeline is developed. Many of the PI led proposals involve a PDS based individual and other missions negotiate this involvement.

The PDS is faced with ongoing challenges. Within the anticipated funding levels the PDS must: interface with more than 20 missions at a time in various development phases; ingest data from increasingly complex instruments with rapidly expanding data volume; add non-mission data from individuals, laboratories and observatories; educate data providers; provide useful links to related national and international data; respond to an increasing spectrum of demands from a growing community of users; incorporate new storage/distribution technologies and adapt to new modes of data presentation. Although many of these challenges are planetary oriented, the last two, in the form of reliability of archive media and an appropriate format for science animations, are topics that involve many of the groups represented at this workshop.

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