The Planetary Data System Special Issue
Volume 44 Number 1 January 1996

Edited by: C.T. Russell
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics,
University of California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A
Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1996

The Planetary Data System (Russell, C.T.) -------------------------- 1
Overview of the Planetary Data System (McMahon, S.K.) ---------------- 3
The Planetary Data System Geosciences Node
(Guiness, E.A.,Arvidson, R.E.,Slavney,S.) ---------------------------- 13
The Imaging Node for the Planetary Data System
(Elliason, E.M., LaVoie, S.K., Soderblom, L.A.) ------------------------- 23
The Rings Node for the Planetary Data System (Showalter, M.R., Bollinger, K.J., Cuzzi, J.N., Nicholson, P.D.) ----------------------------------------- 33
Services of the Small Bodies Node of the Planetary Data System
(Grayzeck Jr, E.J., A'Hearn, M.F.,Raugh, A.C., Sykes, M.V., Davis, D.R., Tholen, D.) -- 47
The Planetary Plasma Interactions Node of the Planetary Data System
(Walker, R.J., Joy, S.P., King, T.A., Russell, C.T., McPherron, R.L.,Kurth, W.S.) ------ 55
Ancillary Data Services of NASA's Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility
(Acton Jr, C.H.) ------------------------------------------------------- 65

The Planetary Data System

      Two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson, in establishing the National Archives gave U.S. federal agencies the charge of preserving government records, including scientific records. However, the information explosion that accompanied the space age saturated the available archives. Moreover, many of the managers of these burgeoning files did not know or appreciate the need to preserve these records and they were being irrecoverably lost. This situation was particularly true in NASA's planetary program where even records that were not lost were almost impossible to access. Bill Quaide, Chief Scientist of the Solar System Exploration Divsion, NASA Headquarters, recognized the seriousness of this situation and took the steps necessary to establish the Planetary Data System to preserve planetary data and provide access to them.

      In the early 1980's Bill Quaide initiated a survey to assess the magnitude of the problem and established an advisory committee, the Planetary Science Data Steering Group, which I initially chaired, to advise him as to how to proceed. The PSDSG in turn convened a Planetary Data Workshop [Keiffer, 1984] at the Goddard Space Flight Center at the end of November 1983. This workshop, with the guidance of the first report of the National Academy's Committee on Data Management and Computation [National Academy Press, 1982], established the framework of the Planetary Data System.

      The Planetary Data System grew slowly, first as a pilot project centered around the data returned by the Voyager mission that encompassed examples of almost all types of data returned by the planetary program. By the end of the decade the project evolved from the pilot phase into a fully functioning project. On the basis of proposals eight nodes were established: a central node at JPL tasked with data distribution and management, and seven discipline nodes for imaging science, geosciences, planetary plasma interactions, small bodies, rings, atmospheres and navigation. These were in general distributed nodes, both separated from JPL and themselves having a central hub and several subnodes. With time the discipline nodes have strengthened their efforts and now are the major focus of the PDS. The PDS in turn, has grown to be the major provider of planetary data in the US and perhaps the world.

      This special issue of Planetary and Space Science on the Planetary Data System is an attempt to introduce the PDS to a wider audience than heretofore and also to recognize the many individuals who have contributed to it. It contains articles on all the presently active nodes of the PDS. (The Atmospheres mode is presently inactive but as this is being written proposals for its revival are under review). It is hoped that you, the reader, will be inspired to utilize these archives and to refer to this set of papers when you do.

      The special issue also contains an interactive CD-ROM produced by the Planetary Data System entitled "Welcome to the Planets"®. It features over 200 of the finest images and animations acquired over the last twenty years of United States planetary exploration. The program contains images of each of the nine planets, as well as detailed views of surface features, atmospheres, rings, and moons. Also featured are images of comets, asteroids, collected rock samples, and meteorites. Each image is accompanied by a caption, and is linked to information screens and sequences concerning the spacecraft that acquired the image and the planet associated with the image. Captions may be either read from the screen or heard as voice-over narrations.

      This CD-ROM was conceived over 5 years ago by R. Arvidson (Washington University, St. Louis) and M. Martin (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena) with the support of W. Quaide of NASA Headquarters. It was intended to be an educational tool to allow students to work with real data and not just glossy photos in textbooks. After much work and interaction with the community the first version of "Welcome to the Planets" was released to the public and has been very popular with teachers. To facilitate its use in the classroom, the CD-ROM includes a Curriculum Guide which features an illustrated user's guide to the "Welcome to the Planets"® program, four sample lessons, tabular and graphic material, and lists of additional print, CD-ROM, and online resources for planetary science. The disk included herein is version 1.5, the second public release of the disk with many updates in the software.

      The information on the disk is presented in two multimedia formats: Macintosh and Windows projectors created using Macromedia Director® ; and HTML files. The user can view the data with either Macintosh or Windows computers (and a VGA display) of 640 480 picture elements. The WELCOME.HTM file allows access to all the text and images on all platforms for which there exists HTML client software. Images, except for frame animation images, used in the presentation are provided in CompuServe GIF format in the GIF subdirectory. An overview of the disk and information on starting the program can be found in the file AAREADME.TXT. We note that the Director software is copyrighted by Macromedia, Inc. (1994), that Macintosh is a trademark of Apple Computer Inc., and that Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

C. T. Russell
Los Angeles, Nov. 1995


Keiffer, H. H., Planetary Data Workshop, Part 1 and 2, NASA Conference
Publication 2343, Washington DC, 1984.

National Academy Press, Data Management and Computation, Volume 1: Issues and Recommendations, NAP, Washington DC, 1982.

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