Introduction to the PERMANENT Publications Database of Technical Papers and Layman Materials
A main purpose of PERMANENT is to introduce people to the concepts of space industrialization using asteroidal and lunar material - to bring people up to speed quickly.
Veterans in the field can also meet new people and expand their horizons by finding new resources via PERMANENT.
We field inquiries from people along the continuum from specialist to generalist.
For us, the publications database is the core of our operation, as it contains the analyses of specialists, and also gives us a database of professionals (the authors) who we can contact for expert opinions.
Frankly, our strengths are breadth and quality assurance. Anyone can overconfidently say "We've got a [database / bibliography / links] on space resources", but according to our experience, the vast majority of such people have just a cursory sampling which is quite incomplete. We have a broad, systematic sampling which we have maintained over more than two decades.
Also, some longtimers have said "Why go anywhere else, we know everybody you need to know." I've often found quite to the contrary. There are several reasons, e.g., there are biases, and/or many researchers do not spend the time to go to the same meetings, and/or it's not humanly possible for one or a few people to keep up in all these diverse fields well enough, and/or it's better to solicit second and third opinions (or more) on any particular topic.
We've been maintaining a database of leading technical research papers and reports since the early 1980s, in many key technical specializations. We regularly review the main databases for new work to review. However, we rely heavily on the published (and many unpublished) research papers and reports by leading researchers, and following their references and referrals.
As people knowledgeable in our fields, we don't rely on any one expert (as too many generalists seem to do, based on self-confidence of one expert or group). The issues are sometimes vested interests, but are usually the simple fact that experts often disagree on the relative feasibility, technical and economic merits of alternative methods. We are committed to objectivity, soliciting different viewpoints, and helping a diversity of reasonable ventures.
Besides, history has a long line of experts with various top awards and achievements, subsequently with lots of followers supporting them thereafter, but who turned out to be wrong on subsequent work and opinions. We should be inviting to a variety of inputs from experts with experience in diverse fields, who can either confirm what other experts state or else refine the analysis.
Publications on utilizing asteroidal and lunar materials are spread out among many online sources. For someone new to this field who wants access to documents on these topics, it can be a laborious task (and often quite time-consuming and expensive) to find materials of your particular interest, especially quality materials. We've tried to pull publications together from many different sources, giving a basic listing and review, plus a link to the source online elsewhere. (We also keep copies offline on our LAN, because many websites die and sources go offline.)
What we have done is commit to trying to (1) organize the widest possible database on utilizing asteroidal and lunar materials, and (2) organize it to make your research easier.
In addition to summaries of relevant material, we sometimes also offer quality judgements of material, as well as references to experts in the various fields who can help guide you (albeit sometimes with their own biases). You can also add your comments to any paper in the database, in the comments section.
History of our database
The PERMANENT database started online in 1986 as a BBS. The web arose in the mid-1990s.
In 1997, our database first went onto the web from a server in Canberra, Australia, thanks to Jonathan Ricketson. As Lotus / IBM Notes was the best database format of that time, we converted the database to Notes format. However, Jonathan subsequently left to pursue a Masters degree at the International Space University in France, and the database was left on autopilot with his company, of whom we didn't know anybody. After awhile, the server stopped serving it. IBM Notes also faded in the marketplace, a long story to skip here.
The 2000's saw MySQL arise as an open source database, so we converted the database into MySQL format, and started to put on a PHP front end, which is the current format.
We have actually lost a lot of material (such as summaries of publications) during various database conversion processes, and have a lot of publications which have not yet been typed in, e.g., a bunch of conference proceedings sitting on a shelf behind me as I type this, and PDF files emailed to us which we haven't yet reviewed and/or put into the database.
Other Public Databases
There are some other databases out there, such as the AIAA database (expensive) and NASA databases. However, they have some limitations:
We have pulled in publications from a diversity of sources, and put them into our categorization scheme which covers only lunar and asteroid mining, industrialization, and space colonization.
You can easily browse our categories to get a pretty good overview of the field. There is no haystack.
PERMANENT has taken published materials in the field of space resources and organized them with our own standardized, organized set of categories.
If you instead search by keywords, you won't be getting stacks of hits on documents in irrelevant fields. Every keyword hit has to do with space resources utilization.
Notably, there is a lot of "publish or perish" work that adds little to the technical knowledgebase. Some of this comes from paper-pushing government contractors who basically plagarize, more or less, to produce paper to sufficiently impress higher level managers who don't know better, and of course to "do their job". Some other publish-or-perish work comes from academia. Much published work is "reinvention of the wheel" whereby the author didn't do a good search on what has already been done before creating their own work. Sometimes this is good, for a fresh new analysis without undue influence from old authorities, but often this means they just waste time, effort and talent publishing conclusions that have already been reached by someone else, and sometimes often not as well as the other researcher who did their homework before starting. Often, we don't include the repeat content by the weaker paper in our database.
If you are an engineer or scientist looking for prior research, you may also want to contact an expert in the relevant field who is widely read in the technical literature for an in-depth review of your specialization, and hopefully an objective review of what are the best and most appropriate research papers to get. You can find many names and authors the database.
Outside of the database, in addition to PERMANENT, you can contact the Space Resources Roundtable at the Colorado School of Mines, as well as the Space Studies Institute (SSI), the Arizona Center for Space Resources (esp. Dr. John S. Lewis), the NASA Johnson Space Center's Solar System Exploration Office. Some of the longtime leaders in this field include Dr. David S. McKay, Dr. Mike Duke, and Dr. Wendell Mendell, to name just a few. You will find good paper libraries at most of their locations.
If you have difficulty finding the e-mail address of anyone, then you can send a message to us and we may be able to assist you. Many seasoned experts do not have well published e-mail addresses, but we're collecting them for servicing professional inquiries whereby we forward messages to the recipients but must leave it to them to make initial direct contact by a reply (for reasons of privacy).
Working Together on the PERMANENT Database
We would like to work with other organizations and people in developing our publications database. Please see our section on donating some time and effort to help us on the publications database.