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The Astrogeology Science Center serves the nation, the international science community, and the general public in the pursuit of new knowledge about our Solar System. The program has participated in analyzing data from numerous missions to planetary bodies, mapping planets, moons, and asteroids, and researching these body’s geologic processes.
Our scientists work with NASA and other space agencies to lead investigations, select rover landing sites, create geologic maps and cartographic products for numerous spacecraft missions throughout our solar system. Our Astrogeology Science Center continues to provide support for numerous past, present and future space missions.
The USGS Astrogeology Science Center is a hub for planetary research. The center provides guest facilities, labs, and numerous cartographic resources for both the scientific community and the general public. Geologists, archivists, data specialists, and cartographers are employed at the center to assist the planetary science community.
The Astrogeology Science Center's mission includes producing planetary maps and cartographic products which reveal topography, geology, topology, image mosaics and more, all made available to the international scientific community and the general public as a national resource.
We study geology, volcanism, astrobiology, dunes, ice and water flow, crater aging, mineral deposits and the make-up of various planetary surfaces. Our research leads to a better understanding of the character of our neighboring planets, the origins of the solar system, and a better comprehension of our own planet, Earth.
ISIS has many standard image processing operations such as contrast stretch, image algebra, filters, and statistical analysis. Isis operates on both classical two-dimensional images as well as three-dimensional cubes collected from imaging spectrometers. It also has unique capabilities for processing data from NASA spacecraft missions.
PILOT is a web based search tool for the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database of the Planetary Data System. PILOT features SPICE-corrected image locations and searching capabilities using a navigable map, user selectable image constraints, and facilitates bulk downloads and/or image processing using POW.
The Map Projection on the Web service was created to help researchers convert raw Planetary Data System images to a science-ready map projected images. The system integrates the Planetary Image LOcator Tool (PILOT) and the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC), ISIS3, GDAL, and the Astrogeology processing cluster for its’ processing needs.
Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS) are based on Open Geospatial Consortium standards and allow capable mapping clients to view full-resolution planetary mosaicked Basemaps. Services are available for community use and are critical for our Planetary Nomenclature, Planetary Geologic Mapping and PILOT sites
Allows existing map-projected (derived) image products to be re-projected, stretched, clipped, and converted into a variety of useful formats. Version 2 allows us to quickly add new mosaics and potentially many other derived science products for conversion and download.
GDAL is a translator library for raster geospatial data formats that is released under an X/MIT style Open Source license by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As a library, it presents a single abstract data model for all supported formats. It also comes with a variety of useful commandline utilities for data translation and processing.
The Planetary Geologic Mapping Program serves the international science community through the production of high-quality and refereed geologic maps of planetary bodies. This program is in coordination between NASA science programs and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.
Complex bedding geometry in the upper portion of Aeolis Mons, Gale crater, Mars
The Upper formation of Aeolis Mons in Gale crater exhibits curvilinear bedding patterns on the surfaces of several erosional benches that have been interpreted as cross-bedding. We use High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) stereo topography to test this hypothesis by measuring the bedding geometry within these benches. The bedding...Anderson, Ryan; Edgar, Lauren; Rubin, David M.; Lewis, Kevin W.; Newman, Claire
A novel technique for precision geometric correction of jitter distortion for the Europa Imaging System and other rolling shutter cameras
We use simulated images to demonstrate a novel technique for mitigating geometric distortions caused by platform motion (“jitter”) as two-dimensional image sensors are exposed and read out line by line (“rolling shutter”). The results indicate that the Europa Imaging System (EIS) on NASA’s Europa Clipper can likely meet its scientific goals...Kirk, Randolph L.; Shepherd, Makayla; Sides, Stuart
The thermophysical properties of the Bagnold Dunes, Mars: Ground truthing orbital data
We compare the thermophysical properties and particle sizes derived from the Mars Science Laboratory rover's Ground Temperature Sensor of the Bagnold dunes, specifically Namib dune, to those derived orbitally from Thermal Emission Imaging System, ultimately linking these measurements to ground truth particle sizes determined from Mars Hand Lens...Edwards, Christopher S.; Piqueux, Sylvain; Hamilton, Victoria E.; Fergason, Robin L.; Herkenhoff, Kenneth E.; Vasavada, Ashwin R.; Bennett, Kristen A.; Sacks, Leah; Lewis, Kevin; Smith, Michael D.
Measuring impact crater depth throughout the solar system
One important, almost ubiquitous, tool for understanding the surfaces of solid bodies throughout the solar system is the study of impact craters. While measuring a distribution of crater diameters and locations is an important tool for a wide variety of studies, so too is measuring a crater's “depth.” Depth can inform numerous studies including...Robbins, Stuart J.; Watters, Wesley A.; Chappelow, John E.; Bray, Veronica J.; Daubar, Ingrid J.; Craddock, Robert A.; Beyer, Ross A.; Landis, Margaret E.; Ostrach, Lillian; Tornabene, Livio L.; Riggs, Jamie D.; Weaver, Brian P.
Ancient Martian aeolian processes and palaeomorphology reconstructed from the Stimson formation on the lower slope of Aeolis Mons, Gale crater, Mars
Reconstruction of the palaeoenvironmental context of Martian sedimentary rocks is central to studies of ancient Martian habitability and regional palaeoclimate history. This paper reports the analysis of a distinct aeolian deposit preserved in Gale crater, Mars, and evaluates its palaeomorphology, the processes responsible for its deposition, and...Banham, Steve G.; Gupta, Sanjeev; Rubin, David M.; Watkins, Jessica A.; Sumner, Dawn Y.; Edgett, Kenneth S.; Grotzinger, John P.; Lewis, Kevin W.; Edgar, Lauren; Stack, Kathryn M.; Barnes, Robert; Bell, Jame F. III; Day, Mackenzie D.; Ewing, Ryan C.; Lapotre, Mathieu G.A.; Stein, Nathan T.; Rivera-Hernandez, Frances; Vasavada, Ashwin R.
Relaxed impact craters on Ganymede: Regional variation and high heat flows
Viscously relaxed craters provide a window into the thermal history of Ganymede, a satellite with copious geologic signs of past high heat flows. Here we present measurements of relaxed craters in four regions for which suitable imaging exists: near Anshar Sulcus, Tiamat Sulcus, northern Marius Regio, and Ganymede's south pole. We describe a...Singer, Kelsi N.; Bland, Michael T.; Schenk, Paul M.; McKinnon, William B.
Geologic map of the Nepenthes Planum Region, Mars
This map product contains a map sheet at 1:1,506,000 scale that shows the geology of the Nepenthes Planum region of Mars, which is located between the cratered highlands that dominate the southern hemisphere and the less-cratered sedimentary plains that dominate the northern hemisphere. The map region contains cone- and mound-shaped...Skinner, James A.; Tanaka, Kenneth L.
Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes
Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to...Dundas, Colin M.; Bramson, Ali M; Ojha, Lujendra; Wray, James J.; Mellon, Michael T.; Byrne, Shane; McEwen, Alfred S.; Putzig, N. E.; Viola, Donna; Sutton, Sarah; Clark, E.; Holt, J.W.
Image simulation and assessment of the colour and spatial capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
This study aims to assess the spatial and visible/near-infrared (VNIR) colour/spectral capabilities of the 4-band Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) aboard the ExoMars 2016 Trace Grace Orbiter (TGO). The instrument response functions for the CaSSIS imager was used to resample spectral libraries, modelled spectra and to construct...Tornabene, Livio L.; Seelos, Frank P.; Pommerol, Antoine; Thomas, Nicolas; Caudill, Christy M.; Becerra, Patricio; Bridges, John C.; Byrne, Shane; Cardinale, Marco; Chojnacki, Matthew; Conway, Susan J.; Cremonese, Gabriele; Dundas, Colin M.; El-Maarry, M. R.; Fernando, Jennifer; Hansen, Candice J.; Hansen, Kayle; Harrison, Tanya N.; Henson, Rachel; Marinangeli, Lucia; McEwen, Alfred S.; Pajola, Maurizio; Sutton, Sarah S.; Wray, James J.
Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres' largest crater, Kerwan
Gravity data of Ceres returned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dawn spacecraft is consistent with a lower density crust of variable thickness overlying a higher density mantle. Crustal thickness variations can affect the long‐term, postimpact modification of impact craters on Ceres. Here we show that the unusual morphology...Bland, Michael T.; Ermakov, Anton; Raymond, Carol A.; Williams, David A.; Bowling, Tim J.; Preusker, F.; Park, Ryan S.; Marchi, Simone; Castillo-Rogez, Julie C.; Fu, R.R.; Russell, Christopher T.
Planetary dune workshop expands to include subaqueous processes
Dune-like structures appear in the depths of Earth’s oceans, across its landscapes, and in the extremities of the solar system beyond. Dunes rise up under the thick dense atmosphere of Venus, and they have been found under the almost unimaginably ephemeral atmosphere of a comet.Titus, Timothy N.; Bryant, Gerald; Rubin, David M.
Revised recommended methods for analyzing crater size-frequency distributions
Impact crater populations crucially help us to understand solar system dynamics, planetary surface histories, and surface modification processes. A single previous effort to standardize how crater data are displayed in graphs, tables, and archives, was in a 1978 NASA report by the Crater Analysis Techniques Working Group, published in 1979 in...Robbins, Stuart J.; Riggs, Jamie D.; Weaver, Brian P.; Bierhaus, Edward B.; Chapman, Clark R.; Kirchoff, Michelle R.; Singer, Kelsi N.; Gaddis, Lisa
For the first time, high-resolution images show the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.
This high-resolution NASA HiRISE image shows a detailed subsection of an icy scarp on Mars in enhanced color.
A tour of the Planetary Geologic Mapping Python toolbox, a suite of GIS tools from the Astrogeology Science Center.
An introduction to GIS data using ArcMap 10.1 and higher; intended for planetary geologic mappers.
Roving on Mars: Curiosity's exploration of Gale Crater
* Overview of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission
* Highlights from 5 years of exploring sedimentary environments
* Preview of next steps in Curiosity's climb up Aeolis Mons
On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight through the Pluto system. This detailed, high-quality global mosaic of Pluto was assembled from nearly all of the highest-resolution images obtained by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on New Horizons.
The mosaic is the most...
Flyover of the southeast Ceti Mensa map. Distinct groups of rock layers, called geologic units, are shaded in different colors, with dark browns representing the oldest rocks and green representing the youngest rocks. All of these rocks formed as wind-blown sand that became trapped in shallow, ephemeral lakes, similar to the wet playas of the desert southwest US. The...
This global geologic map of Mars, which records the distribution of geologic units and landforms on the planet's surface through time, is based on unprecedented variety, quality, and quantity of remotely sensed data acquired since the Viking Orbiters. These data have provided morphologic, topographic, spectral, thermophysical, radar sounding, and other observations for...
Clarifying Latitude and Longitude for Planets besides Earth
For the first time, high-resolution images show the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars. According to an in-depth analysis led by the USGS, the images reveal never-before-observed details about the ice sheets, including that some begin just a few feet below the Martian surface and extend to depths greater than 300 feet.
Dark features previously proposed as evidence for significant liquid water flowing on Mars have now been identified as granular flows, where sand and dust move rather than liquid water, according to a new article published in Nature Geoscience by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Billions of dollars and a decade worth of research are on the line in the instant that a spacecraft touches down on Mars. When deciding where to land on the planet’s rocky surface, it is essential to analyze potential landing sites and their surface characteristics.
Scientists have discovered possible evidence for water-rich minerals on the surface of the largest metallic asteroid in the solar system, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA.
A new global geologic map of Mars –the most thorough representation of the "Red Planet's" surface – has been published by the U.S. Geological Survey. This map provides a framework for continued scientific investigation of Mars as the long-range target for human space exploration.
Mountains on Io, Jupiter’s volcanic moon, are formed by a unique geologic mechanism not found elsewhere in the solar system, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The first topographic map of Mercury was released today by the U.S. Geological Survey, Arizona State University, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA.