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Distributed Collaboration System for Mars Gravity Biosatellite Project

February 2003 — June 2004

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite was a student-led project spanning three universities on two continents. Students at MIT, University of Washington, and University of Queensland collaborated to design, build, launch, and recover a low-Earth-orbiting satellite to study the effects of Martian-level gravity on mammals. The Information Systems sub-group of the Mars Gravity project team needed to create an array of distributed network servers based on Microsoft .NET technology to allow real-time access to critical information needed by the team.

The project focused its efforts on data distribution, allowing all team members easy access to data and reports over the Internet, as well as on the project management needed to assign, track, and manage action items across time zones. Finally, advanced videoconferencing allowed meetings to be conducted more effectively with drawing and prototypes shown in real time. Building on available software, the group worked to build a software package that could be used by any project team working across long distances and applicable to many distributed learning environments.

Student Participants:

Audrey Schaffer

Ryan Damico

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February 2003 — January 2004

"The iLabNotebook allowed us to streamline the process of scientific research, offering a multimedia environment for our scientists and students to document their work efficiently."

—Dr. Patrick Anquetil, BioInstrumentation Laboratory

The traditional paper notebooks used in laboratories can limit the sharing of information with colleagues. Adding electronic media as a supplement to notes allows data to be more easily recorded and then accessed from a shared lab knowledge base.

The laboratory environment provides an ideal place for evaluating new technologies and experimenting with revolutionary concepts of conducting research. Using Tablet PC computers equipped with Windows® XP, an electronic prototype of the laboratory notebook was developed and tested. A typical lab notebook may contain setup descriptions, experimental data, chemical formulas, and other records with high value for the laboratory. With this new approach, the best lab ideas are liberated from the page to move to the people.

Student Participants:

Patrick A. Anquetil

Andrew Taberner

Bryan Crane

Laura Proctor

Peter Madden

Rachel Zimet

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