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Planetary Mapping and GIS Tutorials

The Planetary Geologic Mapping group is always working to create new tutorials for the planetary science community. Browse our current tutorial collection below.


Do you have a topic you want to learn more about and don't see it on the list here? Email Sarah Black ( with suggestions for additional tutorial topics.


ArcGIS Pro Tutorials and Demo Videos

Title and Link Description

NEW! User’s Guide to Planetary Image Analysis and Geologic Mapping in ArcGIS Pro

• Download the PDF •

• Download the data •

Comprehensive introduction to working with planetary science data in ArcGIS Pro, including:

  • Importing existing ArcMap projects
  • Working with raster data
  • Working with vector data
  • Completing a spatial analysis
  • Drawing map features
  • Creating map layouts

Works with: ArcGIS Pro 2.6+

Estimated time to complete in full: 8 hours


VIDEO: Creating topographic profiles

VIDEO: Creating topographic profiles

VIDEO: Creating custom projections

VIDEO: Creating custom projections

VIDEO: Creating and editing geologic units using the PGM toolbox

VIDEO: Creating and editing geologic units using the PGM toolbox

ArcMap 10.1+ Tutorials

Title and Link Description

Introduction to GIS Data for ArcMap 10.1 and Higher

Watch Video •

This video is a basic introduction to planetary GIS, including formats, projections, and symbology. It is intended for those without previous experience with ArcMap.

Overview of the Geologic Map GIS Template

Watch Video •

This video goes through the geologic map template used by the PGM group to create standardized projects for NASA-funded mappers. The contents and schema map to FGDC (Federal Geographic Data Committee) symbology for planetary geologic maps, and may be further modified as needed.

Tour of the Planetary Geologic Mapping Python Toolbox

Watch Video •

This video demonstrates tools in the PGM Python toolbox to help with common mapping workflows. There have been additions to the toolbox since this video was made, and it has been upgraded to work with current versions of ArcGIS.

Self-Paced Planetary GIS Exercise

Download .zip

This exercise includes step-by-step instructions and data needed to begin a notional mapping project on Mars. New users are recommended to use the new ArcGIS Pro exercise (above).


Download PDF

This document provides guidance on label placement for geologic maps, and how to further customize them as annotations.


Download PDF

This document details how to generate contours from DTMs appropriate for the scale of the map.


Download PDF

This document details the process of creating custom grids (graticules) for a map layout.

Map Layouts

Download PDF

This document provides guidance on map layouts based on the printed scale of the map, how to customize legends and other 'collar' information, and save layouts as templates for reuse.

Multi-User Editing

Download PDF

This document briefly reviews available methods for multi-user editing of a common GIS project, trade-offs of each, and some best practices to inform mapping collaborations.

Map Conversion to GIS Using the ArcScan Extension

Download PDF

This document demonstrates how the ArcScan extension may be used to extract map linework to vector features, and the conditions required for its use. ArcMap 10.3 or higher is required.

Adobe Illustrator to GIS Conversion

Download PDF

This document may be used for maps originally created in Adobe Illustrator (i.e., non-geospatial vectors) and convert them to GIS.

Map Digitization and Renovation to a New Base

Download PDF

This document details the entire process of converting a scanned paper map to GIS, and how to address changes in the basemap so it most closely matches current features.

Basic ArcMap conversion for planetary data

Download PDF

This presentation provides guidance on the use of planetary data in ArcMap, helpful GDAL routines, tips for using ASCII files, and creating virtual mosaics from separate images.

What's new in ArcMap 10

Download .pptx

This presentation reviews updates to ArcMap 10 and support for PDS and ISIS2/3 formats. It also reviews new features, editing processes, and planetary projections.


Tutorials from workshops and meetings

Workshop / Conference Description and Links

Planetary GIS - an Introduction for Mappers

(July 2015)

2.5-day workshop covering GIS and ArcMap basics, planetary 3D, projections, geodatabases, converting and combining data, historic data, tools, spatial analysis, and map layouts

Slides only (58 MB .zip | separate PDFs)

Slides + GIS data (1.5 GB .zip)

ArcMap 10.x recommended

Planetary GIS - Intro for the Regional Planetary Image Facilities

(November 2013)

Slides (85 MB .zip)

GIS data (1.5 GB .zip)

ArcMap 10.x recommended

Crater Statistics Workshop

(June 2012)

Introduction (PDF)

Theory (PDF)

Crater Counting (PDF)

Crater Tools (PDF)

Crater Statistics (PDF)

Randomness Analysis (PDF)

GIS Workshop for Planetary Mappers

(September 2010)

Day 1 slides (11 MB .pptx)

Day 2 slides (9 MB .pptx)

Examples (310 MB .zip)

Planetary Mappers Meeting GIS Workshop

(June 2010)

Slides (16 MB .ppt)

Annotation and Nomenclature (2 MB PDF)

Reproject and clip (13 MB .wmv)

Snapping and attribution (10 MB .wmv)

ArcMap 9.x recommended


Other GIS Tutorials

Topic Description and Links
15 minute "Tools for DEMs" tutorial

Working with DEMs in a variety of platforms:

  • GDAL & GDALdem
  • ENVI
  • ArcMap
  • ArcScene
  • ArcGlobe

Slides (4 MB PDF)

Python Image Processing using GDAL Slides (5 MB PDF)