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University of Maryland, College Park
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Abstract Reference: 31251
Identifier: P4.12
Presentation: Poster presentation
Key Theme: 4 Long-term Management of Data Archives

25 Years of Planetary Data Archiving with NASA's PDS: Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Authors:
Raugh Anne C., Hughes John S.

NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) was established to ensure NASA's return on investment in its planetary space program. Specifically, the PDS mandate was and is to ensure that the data returned by these missions are not merely preserved, but maintained and usable by subsequent investigators long after the original mission science teams have disbanded. During the intervening generations (1 human, about 5 technological), PDS has amassed a highly diverse archive and dealt with formidable issues of data file format, long-term maintenance, and metadata collection and preservation. Some design choices have stood the test of time others that seemed obvious contemporarily have been disastrous in the long term - requiring some PDS personnel to have to rescue data in their own archives from becoming unreadable. PDS recently redesigned its standards and requirements based on this hard-earned experience, applying modern information technology theory. The culmination of this effort is the new PDS4 Information Model-based standards, with a requirement for data structures that have attributes well suited to long term archiving and usability, and metadata that is complete to the point of exhaustion. We will present the key lessons learned over the past 2+ decades, and their direct impact on the design decisions and philosophy now manifest as the new PDS4 Archiving Standards.