The PDS is a distributed archive of data products from NASA planetary missions. PDS actively manages the archive to maximize its usefulness, and it has become a basic resource for scientists around the world. PDS is composed of eight teams, called “nodes.” Five of these are science discipline nodes, focusing on Atmospheres, Geosciences, Planetary Plasma Interactions, Rings, and Small Bodies. The remaining three nodes provide systems engineering, navigation and ephemeris information, and image processing support. PDS is sponsored by NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). All PDS-produced products are peer-reviewed, well-documented, and easily accessible via a system of online catalogs that are organized by planetary disciplines.
The redesign of the primary web site of the PDS was deployed on August 8, 2008, in preparation for public beta testing starting August 15th. This is an all-new front-end design for the PDS, designed using user-centered methods, by Mark Rose. The purpose of the redesign is to improve usability for PDS users. Goals included: a simpler, more consistent interface; a consistent method for searching for data across multiple nodes; and greater accessibility of PDS tools and data.
The PDS Tools web site provides hosted cross-platform web-based tools to PDS users. The PDS is NASA’s facility for archiving planetary data for long-term storage and retrieval. Web site users have the convenience of using PDS tools in their browser, without the need to install, update, or maintain software. The initial beta site includes three tools: a data validator and data slicing tool, to assist data users in the data archiving process, and an image feature search site, to assist all users in finding images – initially from the Moon and Mars. The image feature search was developed in collaboration with Google. The PDS tools were developed using a user-centered design process. This is an iterative process that uses rapid prototyping and user evaluations to develop software that focuses on user needs.
The PDS Image Search Site, developed in collaboration with Google, provides the capability to search selected PDS image data sets by searching or browsing feature names from a simple, Google-like search interface. Users start by entering a feature name in the search field, or by browsing and clicking on a feature name. Once a feature is selected, users can refine their search using metadata attributes such as mission or instrument. The simple search, browse, and refine features provide powerful tools for both novice and professional users. Once a data set is retrieved, a link is provided to view results in Google Earth. From Google Earth, a direct link is provided to the PDS Image Search Site.