NASA uses Xerox for sharing

From the start of the current Mars rover mission, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab have been using an online content-management system to create a real-time library of the mission's data.

Since January, when the rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars, more than 100,000 files have been uploaded to Xerox Corp.'s DocuShare. The collection is accessible to more than 1,000 experts worldwide, who can discuss the information online around the clock.

DocuShare is used to manage projects, documents and collaborations. Users can access the system anytime and anywhere because it's Web-based, said David Smith, vice president and general manager of Xerox's DocuShare business unit.

The system runs on a Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris server and supports users of Linux and Microsoft Corp. Windows. In addition to the Mars Exploration Rover project, more than 5,000 other people use DocuShare for projects at the Jet Propulsion Lab, Smith said. Lab workers may use DocuShare for as many as 50 simultaneous projects, which could range in duration from a few months to potentially decades. The system houses 700G of data and manages more than 300,000 files for the space program.

"Scientists, engineers, project managers and administrators needed a tool that was very easy to use but, at the same time, extremely robust and secure, one that didn't interfere with the way they did their work," Smith said.

Lab officials also decided to implement DocuShare because the system's ability to search and find information helped scientists collaborate on projects, he said.

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