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August 10, 2023

USGS Astrogeology Science Center celebrates another successful year of data collaboration, learning, and networking at the 6th Planetary Data Workshop. The workshop convened June 26–28, 2023, at the High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.


This workshop brought together all kinds of experts like planetary scientists, data providers from current and recent planetary exploration missions, data archivists, software experts, and more professionals to exchange ideas on current capabilities and needs for tools for planetary research and data analysis. Others attended to develop skills, and/or learn something new and useful for their work.  Still others found it an opportune time to network, finding collaborators for their projects.

About 150 participants from institutions worldwide focused intensely for four days on planetary data at the hybrid Planetary Data Workshop this year, facilitated by the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The planetary community use these data for research, mission planning, education, and outreach. Advancements at workshops like this are crucial for making these data easily available, usable by folks at many levels, and reliable for generations to come.

The main data storage archive and server for planetary data, the NASA Planetary Data Archive ( PDS), is approaching two petabytes of data from planetary missions. Given this volume of  actively managed data, with data volume increasing rapidly every day, and given the increasing access needs for the PDS archive,  new methods of identifying, acquiring, storing, and serving these data will be growing as our understanding of our Solar System grows.

Two cartoon heads are discussing the Planetary Data Workshop.
Two cartoon heads used to discuss the advantage of attending Planetary Data Workshops.


Planetary Data Workshop convener, Trent Hare,  reflects on this year’s session:

Nearly 150 participants (~100 in-person and ~50 virtual) from all over the world attended the 6th Planetary Data Workshop.  The goal of these workshops is to bring together planetary scientists, data providers from current and recent planetary exploration missions, data archivists, and software experts to exchange ideas on current capabilities and needs for tools for planetary research and data analysis. PDW6 presentations included the challenge by NASA to realize Open Science, Open Software, and the creation of a Planetary Data Ecosystem (PDE). There is a strong need for communication between data providers, scientists, engineers, tools developers and users on how best to obtain just the right data and to work with them using the best possible tools.

In addition to presentations and opportunities for collaboration, the workshop also offered tutorials for various software tools developed by different groups in the community. Online and asynchronous discussions for the workshop were supported by the Open Planetary organization ( Keynote presentations by Steve Crawford (Science Mission Directorate of NASA), Emily Foshee (University of Alabama in Huntsville), Alessandro Frigeri (National Institute for Astrophysics / IAPS, Rome), and Ross Beyer (NASA Ames) were widely attended, in addition to many of the networking sessions. Steve Crawford and Robin Fergason (NASA Ames) discussed goals to help realize a PDE including NASA-sponsored resources, FAIR data practices, and cloud initiatives. Python tools and toolkits were well represented across many of the presentations including archiving tools, image readers, and spectral tools.


Saving the best news for last. . .

Presentations, tutorials, and abstracts are now available to the public at no cost. The Lunar and Planetary Institute is sharing the information here.


Planning the next planetary workshop . . . 

The 7th Planetary Data Workshop is scheduled for June 2025, likely in Flagstaff, AZ, but the location could change. Stay tuned for a possible change in location and an exact date.


Joining the conversation . . .

Do you want to join in these conversations? Join the Open Planetary community where you can follow ongoing discussions and request help for planetary data, tools, and services. We've got your back!

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