Status Report

Planetary Science Institute Receives $4 Million For Data Archiving Services

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2015
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The Planetary Science Institute received a $4 million, five year cooperative agreement from NASA to manage the Planetary Data System’s Asteroid and Dust Subnode. The Subnode is part of the Small Bodies Node, managed by the University of Maryland.

PSI has provided PDS archiving services for more than 20 years, PSI Research Scientist Eric Palmer said. “We maintain an archive of all NASA flight mission data that relates to asteroids and interplanetary dust.” Palmer will be the new manager of the Asteroid and Dust Subnode, assuming the reins from PSI Senior Scientist Don Davis who established the subnode in 1994.

PSI’s archiving team is lead support on the NASA Dawn, OSIRIS-REx and Japanese Hayabusa 2 missions. They also support the dust detection instrument on Cassini and asteroid flybys of ESA’s Rosetta mission. Past missions include IRAS, Galileo, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission, and others. Ground based observations of asteroids are also included. The amount of data stored in the archive approaches 10 terabytes.

“We work with mission teams to ensure that data products are well-documented and in formats that are usable.” Palmer said. The most important part of the archive process, however, is to subject all data to peer review by outside scientists. This is to ensure that the data will continue is to be usable for the next 50 years.”

Seven PSI staffers work on PDS: Palmer, Don Davis, Beatrice Mueller, Carol Neese, Rose Early, Jesse Stone and Michael Wendell.

“The PDS plays an essential role in the public getting continuing benefit from their investment in NASA missions during and beyond the lifetime of those missions,” said PSI Director Mark Sykes. “Under the leadership of Eric Palmer, a new generation is taking up the reins of this program, bringing new vision and perspective which will help the PDS continue its open-ended role.”

Visit for a photo of PSI’s PDS team members.


The Planetary Science Institute is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to solar system exploration. It is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, where it was founded in 1972.

PSI scientists are involved in numerous NASA and international missions, the study of Mars and other planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, impact physics, the origin of the solar system, extra-solar planet formation, dynamics, the rise of life, and other areas of research. They conduct fieldwork on all continents around the world. They also are actively involved in science education and public outreach through school programs, children’s books, popular science books and art.

PSI scientists are based in 22 states and the District of Columbia, and work from various locations around the world.

SpaceRef staff editor.