Making NASA's Photographic Data Available on the Web

Volume 12, Number 1, March 1996
by Edwin Bell and David Williams

NSSDC holds over 500,000 lunar and planetary photographs from missions dating back to the 1960s. To make a representative sampling of these more immediately accessible to the scientific community and to the general public, NSSDC has created the WWW-accessible Photo Gallery.

To address this concern, NSSDC began an effort to make some of its most requested images available via the NSSDC Photo Gallery. Beginning with a modest number of images (37) in July 1994 and encompassing only a few select planets, asteroids, comets, and missions, the NSSDC Photo Gallery has grown to 201 images of all the planets, several asteroids and comets, the Sun, several astronomical objects, and even images of various spacecraft. To date, there have been over 650,000 retrievals of the full-resolution images and over 200,000 accesses to the NSSDC Photo Gallery home page. The most popular images are of Earth, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, spacecraft, and various astronomical objects. The most popular of these images are retrieved between 3,000-5,000 times per month.

The NSSDC Photo Gallery has proven to be one of the most popular parts of NSSDC's World Wide Web (WWW) offerings. The growing demand indicates the need for many more images. To address this issue, the NSSDC is producing an on-line image catalog that will be accessible via WWW.

This catalog will initially feature about 400 to 500 images covering all the planets and most of the missions for which images are available. NSSDC hopes to increase this number to about 1,000 by the end of 1996. The catalog can be used by NSSDC staff to locate requested images, by scientists to search for images or classes of images for use in research and journal articles, and by the general public to browse for images for personal use.

This is a Clementine image.

Each image in the catalog will be presented on a Web page in approximately a 4 x 5-inch size with associated metadata and a short caption. Selecting the image will give a full-screen, high-resolution version of the image. A capability for ordering hard copy versions of the image will also be included. The images themselves will be organized by the planet or planetary system imaged and by the imaging mission. The image catalog is still under development. NSSDC plans to make the catalog public by the end of March 1996.

This is a Voyager II image of Jupiter B

The NSSDC Photo Gallery can be seen at URL . The URL of the more extensive image catalog will be announced in the "What's New" section of the NSSDC Home Page ( when it is available.

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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]