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.
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 10.6 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.
Planetary Aeolian Lab
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.