Washington University in St. Louis Partners with NASA To Collect Planetary Geosciences Data

Washington University in St. Louis recently announced plans to work with NASA to archive and distribute digital data related to the study of the surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies.

Washington University has managed the “geosciences node” of NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS) since the program’s inception, working directly with NASA missions to help them generate data archives related to geology, geophysics, surface properties, and tectonics of planets. NASA recently renewed its agreement with scientists in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

“The next five years will see a huge growth in data from NASA’s robotic missions, particularly for the moon. Our node personnel are excited to be involved and to help ensure that peer-reviewed data and documentation from these missions are available through the web on a worldwide basis,” said Raymond E. Arvidson, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences.

PDS is designed for scientists researching the rings, asteroids, comets, moons, and planets. The “geosciences node” focuses on planning, validating, preserving, and making available archives that pertain to understanding the surfaces, interiors and dynamics of Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and Mars.

“We provide data to NASA-sponsored researchers along with expert assistance in using the data,” said Susan Slavney, curator of the Geosciences Node and a research programmer in earth and planetary sciences at Washington University. “All our archives are online and available to download free of charge.”

The “geosciences node” at Washington University is the lead archive for all landed missions to Mars, most of which are powered by Missouri-made batteries, preserving data that will be mined by researchers for decades to come.

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