The PDS Peer Review is an essential part of the archiving process. The review presents the archive product to a set of users and asks them to verify that the data are, in fact, useful, well-formatted, and self-documenting. The reviewers can reject a data set they feel does not merit inclusion in the PDS archives, and can specify corrections and additions which must be made before a data set is considered acceptable. Representatives from the science discipline node and the PDS Engineering Node are charged with enforcing format and documentation standards, so that reviewers may concentrate on the scientific content, however reviewers may find it helpful to have at least some exposure to the PDS requirements beforehand.
For reference, the standards used for describing and storing data (PDS Standards Reference, v3.8) address the details of the data set structure and hierarchy, data formats and descriptions. The basic structure of a data set and the most useful files to focus on for general information are detailed in How to Understand a PDS Data Set. The Common data file types page lists the file extensions you are likely to encounter in the data set directories and describes their significance.
Many file types found in the SBN archives and review pages are common to the planetary community. For reference, we have included a listing of file type by extension which should include all file types that a user or reviewer would encounter. This list gives a brief description of the file type and/or definition of its acronym, the location in a data set volume where the file would most likely be found, and a link, if deemed necessary, to free, downloadable software that reads the data stored in the file.
The SBN has also developed suites of small utilities for working with specific types of data most frequently encountered, and to produce formats that are preferred by the SBN (which may be more restrictive in some respects than the general PDS requirements). The routines are all written in either ANSI-standard C or Perl. All are presently maintained under linux. The source code for these routines is available from the SBN, as is, from our software archives, where they are bundled together into general packages.
The most often requested tool by our reviewers is an IDL procedure to read the types of PDS labeled files found in the SBN archives. ReadPDS is a set of IDL procedures for reading the PDS labels common to small bodies data sets. This package is intended primarily for end-users of PDS data. An 'examples' directory is included with the distribution.
Here are other software packages that may be of use when trying to view and manipulate data files (images, spectra and tables). These utilities provide at least a basic GUI are available for Windows, Mac and Linux systems.