Nasa scientists have established an internet-based file sharing infrastructure to help access data in their bid to discover whether water, and perhaps life, once existed on Mars.
Experts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and at other Nasa facilities and universities in the US and worldwide, are studying data from the two Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
The data travels over Nasa's Deep Space Network, an international network of antennae located in Australia, Spain and the US.
Information is then processed by ground-based software and stored on file servers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The processed data is made available to the worldwide network of scientists and researchers over the internet by a middleware layer powered by BEA WebLogic Server.
Besides data, the middleware layer provides scheduling information and the current time in various Earth and Mars time zones, while the message service enables mission managers to broadcast messages.
The system was built using Enterprise Java Beans, the Java Message Service, and web services. The middleware serves several client applications, including the Collaborative Information Portal and Viz.
The Collaborative Information Portal is a Java application that allows users to view data generated by the various rover instruments.
Viz is a C++ application that allows users to view and rotate three-dimensional images taken by the rovers' stereo cameras.
"Data is the lifeblood of this mission, and around-the-clock data access is crucial to Nasa's scientists so that they can formulate meaningful conclusions about Mars," said Tod Nielsen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at BEA Systems.
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