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Archive Preparation Guide
Proposerís Archive Guide
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Data Preparerís Workbook
Quick-Start Introduction to
PDS Archiving
Quick-Start Introduction to PDS Archiving

What We Need from Data Reviewers

The purpose of the review process is to ensure that the data are complete, intelligible, interpretable, and of archival quality. All these attributes are subjective to some extent, and reviewers should always bear in mind that PDS is intended to be a research archive format, not a working data set format. Notwithstanding, following are some guidelines for evaluation.


Completeness means that the data set contains all the documentation, calibration and ancillary information needed to interpret the data. Any files used as input to create the data files should be included (for example, ephemerides for the spacecraft or target body). Generally speaking, for archive purposes we prefer to have primitive data (which has perhaps been mechanically reduced but has not yet had any scientific interpretation applied in the process), as well as the final, interpreted data set (e.g., the project data set for a spacecraft mission).

Completeness does not necessarily mean that every single bit produced by the project has been saved. If the data supplier or the review panel determine that some section of the data are scientifically meaningless (due to instrument failure, for example), those data can and should be deleted from the data set prior to archiving.


Intelligibility is concerned with the physical and logical formatting of the data files. Electronic data are considered intelligible if they are readable by any reasonable computer system operated by a knowledgeable user who has access to the data set documentation. We assume that such a user and system can display any ASCII files included in the data set without difficulty, and thus has access to the documentation included with the data set. The documentation should provide sufficient details about the physical and logical format for the user to either read the data directly into an application, or reformat the data as necessary to use it.

Intelligibility does not mean that the data must be in the most convenient format. Rather, considerations of long-term archiving and support for future research play the major role in this determination. In other words, given the choice between a format which is convenient but specific to some software application(s) and a format which is based on a long-lived albeit inconvenient standard, the standard format should be given preference. For ASCII data, formats which make the data easy to read visually are preferred, since visual inspection is a tried-and-true method for reading data and is unlikely to be supplanted.


Whether the data are interpretable or not depends largely on the documentation. At the record level, the documentation should define the meaning, units of measure and significance of each field. At higher levels the documentation should describe how the data were collected and reduced to their current state. Calibration files and other ancillary data should be available and themselves documented.

Interpretability should be measured with respect to a knowledgeable professional. That is, interpretability does not mean that the documentation must explain the data and their significance at the level of the general lay public.

Archival Quality

Fitness for archiving should be interpreted with respect to the research archive goals of the PDS. It is neither the intention nor the purpose of the PDS to make immediately available the latest revision of every possible data set; nor is it desirable to congest the archive with data of questionable quality. The opinions of the outside reviewers are weighed very heavily in determining whether a data set is of archive quality.

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