The Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies (RGCPS), at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, is one of an international network of 17 Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF) data centers, established by NASA in 1977 to archive planetary images for use by the scientific and educational communities. The facility supports the research of the ASU planetary science faculty, students, and staff, as well as the local and statewide educational communities and the general public.
These facilities maintain photographic and digital data as well as mission documentation and cartographic data. Each facility’s general collection contains images and maps of planets and their satellites taken by solar system exploration spacecraft.
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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a method of computer mapping that links the mapped features to a database.
The RGCPS houses a 5-computer Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory, where faculty, students, and visiting researchers can work on planetary mapping projects. Our goal is to provide GIS-ready datasets of the individual planetary bodies, and expert assistance to researchers to aid them in completing their work.
Installed on each computer is ArcGIS 10.3, which includes the full suite of mapping tools: ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcEditor, and ArcGlobe, as well as JMars. Software for processing planetary images are also available: ISIS 3, developed by the USGS for processing Planetary Data System (PDS) images, and ENVI 4, which is used for multi-spectral image analysis.
Workshops to teach ArcGIS and ISIS 3 are in development.
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The NASA Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) is used for conducting experiments and simulations of aeolian processes (windblown particles) under different planetary atmospheric environments, including Earth, Mars, and Saturn’s moon Titan. The PAL includes one of the nation’s largest pressure chambers for conducting low-pressure research. PAL enables scientific research into aeolian processes under controlled laboratory conditions, and the testing and calibration of spacecraft instruments and components for NASA’s solar system missions, including those requiring a large volume of low atmospheric pressure. The PAL includes an ambient pressure/temperature wind tunnel and a vortex (dust devil) generator on the Tempe campus of ASU, and the Mars Wind Tunnel and Titan Wind Tunnel located in the Structural Dynamics Building (N-242) at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
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Dawn At Ceres
Dawn is currently in orbit around Ceres, the largest asteroid of the Solar System. It is flying at an altitude of 375 km (233 mi) in the Low Altitude Mapping Orbit, or LAMO.
New Geologic Map
A new geologic map of Mars is now available from the USGS. This map (Investigations Map 3292) is in the Robinson Pseudocylindrical projection, at a scale of 1:20,000,000.
The RGCPS is open from 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. Our front office phone number is (480) 965-7029.
The RGCPS is located in Bateman Physical Sciences F-Wing, which is part of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. This building is on Tempe campus, south of University Dr., and to the west of MacAllister Ave. Our mailing address is:
Arizona State University
P.O. Box 871404
Tempe, AZ 85287-1404
Parking for the RGCPS can be found on Rural Road south of University Dr., and at the Foundation structure, on the corner of University Dr. and College Ave. For more information, go to:
ASU Parking & Transit
Dr. Ronald Greeley, Regents’ Professor
Ronald Greeley (1939-2011) was a Regents’ Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University (ASU), the Director of the NASA-ASU Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF), and Principal Investigator of the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) at NASA-Ames Research Center. He had been involved in lunar and planetary studies since 1967. His research focused on understanding planetary surface processes and geologic histories, which involved a combination of spacecraft data analysis, laboratory experiments, and geologic field studies on Earth of features analogous to those observed on the planets.
He was an adored and respected member of the planetary community and a key member of the faculty at Arizona State. He was an incredible mentor and a wonderful friend to everyone who knew him. He is very much missed.
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