Dr. Mark Showalter

December 21, 2006

"A Proposal to Relocate the Planetary Data System Rings Node to the SETI Institute"


The Planetary Rings Node is devoted to archiving and distributing scientific data sets relevant to planetary ring systems. The two major classes of ring data are images and occultation profiles, although a variety of additional data types (e.g. spectra, particle absorption signatures, etc.) are also of interest. A large fraction of our data sets are from the Voyager missions to the outer planets, but Earth-based and HST data sets are also represented. The Rings Node also performs a variety of services to support research into these data sets. These services include developing on-line catalogs and information systems, filling orders for data, developing software tools, and coordinating special observing campaigns.

The Planetary Rings Node supports research into all aspects of planetary ring systems, including their physical properties (particle sizes, composition, ring geometry), dynamical processes (including interactions with satellites) and origins. Indirectly, the Node also supports studies of other dynamical analogs such as the solar nebula and the asteroid belt, where similar physical processes are (or were) at work. In addition to supporting research, the Rings Node is committed to NASA's broader goal of educating the public about science and technology. The Rings Node is a cooperative project of SETI Institute, NASA Ames Research Center and the Center for Radar Astronomy at Stanford University. The PDS Rings Node has been relocated from NASA Ames Research Center to the SETI Institute in order to improve its on-line availability to the outside world. The PDS Rings Node had been located at NASA Ames since the PDS was first established in 1989. The PI has managed it since the very beginning and was recently re-selected to serve for another five years, 2004–2009.