Planetary Data System Offers New Data Products

Volume 10, Numbers 3 & 4, December 1994
by Dave Williams
Users of planetary data CD-ROMs may have noticed an emblem with the inscription "PDS" and "Planetary Data System" embossed on the disks. These CD-ROMs are produced by PDS or by flight projects using PDS archive standards and support. They include peer-reviewed planetary science data plus documentation that make the data usable by the science community. PDS products are available on CD-ROM, CD-Write Once discs, tape, and electronically. The PDS and NSSDC work together to archive and distribute NASA's planetary data.

In addition to PDS publications and archive standards, PDS provides science expertise and special processing to planetary scientists. To address this community and understand its priorities, PDS is composed of a central node, seven discipline nodes (atmospheres, geosciences, imaging, navigation, plasma interactions, rings, and small bodies), and a number of discipline sub-nodes that form a distributed group of scientists responsible for validating, formatting, and archiving data from NASA's planetary missions. PDS representatives deal directly with projects that involve planetary encounters to ensure the rapid availability of high-quality data products to the scientific community. PDS also is responsible for the distribution of digital data products to NASA-funded scientists. NSSDC serves as the deep archive of the data, the distributor of hardcopy images, and the distributor of data to non-NASA-funded scientists, educators, and the general public. NSSDC and PDS assist each other in carrying out these tasks.

PDS expects significant future additions to its planetary archives. In 1995, PDS will be validating and archiving encounter data from the Galileo, Clementine, and Ulysses missions as well as data from the comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 collision with Jupiter. The nodes also will be involved in archive planning for Cassini, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars 94/96, Mars Pathfinder, and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. In addition, PDS is actively involved in data restoration efforts for older missions. PDS will publish products in 1995 with data from Viking, Voyager, Magellan, Pioneer Venus Orbiter, Pioneer, Viking Lander, Mariner 9 and 10, Giotto extended mission, International Halley Watch, IRAS, and Venera.

PDS is in the final stages of producing a CD-ROM geared for educational use entitled Welcome to the Planets, which contains images and information about all of the planets and satellites in the solar system. PDS is very active in making data available online. For example, the PDS Atmospheres and Plasma Interactions nodes have online systems that make much of NASA's planetary atmosphere and plasma data available over the Internet, and the Geosciences node provides a Magellan image browser as well as direct access to many Magellan data products. PDS is considering expanding its capabilities involving CD-ROM jukeboxes. Via the World Wide Web (WWW), PDS is widely distributing an enormous variety of data and information about these data.

The collaborative relationship developed between PDS and NSSDC for the archive and distribution of data to the scientific, educational, and general community is a good example of shared data handling responsibilities. Further information about PDS is available on the WWW, and most of the nodes are accessible through it. PDS is rapidly expanding its information available on the WWW. The URL for the PDS home page is

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]