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Connect Lab convenes scientists virtually to tackle environmental problems

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Scientific collaboration is required to combat some of the world's most pressing environmental issues, according to Connect Lab, a project founded by NASA Ames and Lockheed Martin.

SAN FRANCISCO -- To combat some of the world's most pressing environmental issues, it's going to require the collaboration of scientists from around the globe, according to representatives from Connect Lab, a project founded by NASA Ames and Lockheed Martin.

However, there are definitely some hurdles to achieving this. The primary reason is easy: traveling is expensive.

Thus, this virtual center was created to "bring scientists together to have virtual science workshops without travel," said Michael Sims from NASA Ames' Intelligent Systems Division while speaking at the NASAxTED innovation even in San Francisco on Wednesday.

There are two problems that scientists taking part in the Connect Lab are focusing on: sustainability on our planet and climate change.

Estelle Dodson, CTO at Lockheed Martin, noted the difficulty of these problems, stating that "it's going to take all of us working together as a collaborative system in order to solve it."

The Connect Lab, Dodson said, is empowered by collaborative technologies that open up virtual portals between universities, labs, homes and more locations -- effectively creating "a world without walls."

One of those collaborative technologies includes something very simple yet effective: an enormous display made up of eight large HDTVs. Connect Lab reps emphasized that these larger displays allow scientists to put up a lot of information on display at once, creating an "external memory" of sorts as scientists are working with so many charts and photographs at once.

Examples of photographs and projects include images sent back from the Mars rover of the landscape, sunset and other evidence as scientists try to determine the history and existence of water on the red planet.

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Rachel King

Rachel King is a staff writer for ZDNet. Previously she worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in San Francisco.