SPACE/DATA - Online and Other sources of Images and Data

Last-modified: $Date: 94/03/01 17:24:35 $



A wide variety of images, data, catalogs, information releases, and
other material dealing with space and astronomy may be found on the net.
The sources with the broadest selection of material are the NASA Ames
SPACE archive and the National Space Science Data Center (described

A few sites offer direct dialup access or remote login access, while
others offer file transfer over the Internet (referred to as 'anonymous
FTP'). Sites not connected to the Internet cannot use FTP directly, but
there are a few automated FTP servers which operate via email. Send mail
containing only the word HELP to,, or, and the servers will
send you instructions on how to make requests.

Shorthand for a specific file or directory at an anonymous FTP site is


(e.g. The format has
been changed to valid URLs for users of the World Wide Web. If you are
using a normal FTP client, you will connect to the sitename part of the
URL (, in this case) and get the file specified by
the pathname (/pub/SPACE/FAQ/Index). If a '/' terminates the URL, it
indicates a directory containing multiple files.


WWW is a global hypermedia network carried on the Internet and
incorporating popular protocols including FTP, WAIS, gopher, archie,
NNTP (netnews), etc. The Web is growing at an explosive pace, and huge
amounts of space-related information are already online. This FAQ is
evolving towards a fully hyperlinked Web document (a plain text version
will continue to be posted to the net, of course). The primary change at
present is the use of Web URLs (Universal Resource Locators) to specify
files available by FTP (discussed above), sites accessible by telnet
(URLs of the form telnet://sitename), and Web hypertext documents

If you are not familiar with the Web, you should probably begin by
obtaining a Web browser (typically NCSA Mosaic for X, Mac, and PC) and
exploring. The newsgroup 'comp.infosystems.www' is also available.

The NASA Web home page is at

Other space-related material may be found on the Web starting with the
overview page at

There is also a pointer in the "information by subject" page under
"Space Science."


Don't ask for images to be posted to the space/astro newsgroups. They're
clumsy to access, wasteful of net resources, and inappropriate in
discussion groups. Retrieve images on your own using FTP or Web clients.

The possible combinations of image formats and machines is forebodingly
large, and I won't attempt to cover common formats (GIF, etc.) here. To
read PDS and VICAR (and many other) formats on Unix systems running X,
use XV 3.00, available in

The FAQ for the Usenet group discusses image
formats and how to get image viewing software. A copy of this document
is available from the Usenet FAQ archives in



DMSP is a two satellite constellation of near-polar orbiting, sun
synchronous satellites monitoring meteorological, oceanographic and
solar-terrestrial physics environments. DMSP sample data and information
may be accessed on-line via:

Contact Greg Deuel (


Caltech's IPAC provides access to an easy-to-use interface for making
queries of many astronomical catalogs, especially those from the
Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) mission. You can also query the
Bright Star catalog, SAO star catalog, a number of extragalactic
(galaxy/quasar) catalogs, etc. Results can be saved to flat ASCII tables
or FITS files and copied to your computer via FTP. Using the interface
requires a machine running X Windows. You can get to IPAC via

Log in as "xcatscan" (no password needed).

Contact Joe Mazzarella (


LPI offers online searching of planetary science databases, including
bibliographies, images, meeting abstracts, and other categories.
Internet users can access LPI via


Log in as "LPI" (no password needed).

This system is primarily for professionals in planetary science.


Extensive archives are maintained at NASA Ames and are available via
anonymous FTP or an email server. These archives include many images and
a wide variety of documents including this FAQ list, NASA press
releases, shuttle launch advisories, and mission status reports. Please
note that these are NOT maintained on an official basis.

A listing of files available in the archive is in

An email server for the SPACE archive is temporarily out of service due
to the archive moving to its new home, explorer. Instructions for
accessing the email server will be returned to the FAQ when the server
is running again.

Magellan, Voyager, and Viking CD-ROMs are online in

Tens of thousands of images are available.

The GIF directory contains images in GIF format. The VICAR directory
contains Magellan images in VICAR format (these are also available in
the GIF directory). A PC program capable of displaying these files is
found in the IMDISP directory (see the item "VIEWING IMAGES" below).

The NASA media guide describes the various NASA centers and how to
contact their public affairs officers; this may be useful when pursuing
specific information. It's in

Contact Peter Yee (


The ADS is a distributed data retrieval system which is easy to use and
provides uniform access to ground-based and space-based astronomy data
from NASA data centers across the country. It currently has over 140
data catalogs of radio, infrared, optical, UV, and X-ray data which can
be queried by position or any other parameter in the catalog. The ADS
also provides tools to manipulate and plot tabular results. In addition,
ADS has a Beta version of an Abstracts Service which allows users to
query over 125,000 abstracts of astronomy papers since 1975 by authors,
keywords, title words, or abstract text words.

ADS use requires direct Internet access. For more info and to sign up to
become a user, email The User's Guide and
"QuickStart" Guide (PostScript files) are in

Contact Carolyn Stern Grant (


A WAIS database describing servers of interest to the space community is
described by the source file:

:version 3
:ip-name ""
:tcp-port 210
:database-name "NASA-directory-of-servers"
:cost 0.00
:cost-unit :free
:maintainer ""
:description "Server created with WAIS release 8 b5.1 on May 5 14:05:34 1993 by warnock@Hypatia

Maintainers of WAIS databases of interest to the NASA community can
register their databases with the NASA-directory-of-servers by sending
the source file to Contact Archie
Warnock (


is an anonymous FTP site operated by the JPL Public Information Office,
containing news releases, status reports, fact sheets, images, and other
data on JPL missions. It may also be reached by modem at (818)-354-1333
(no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit).

Contact or phone (818)-354-7170.


offers technical reports. Start with files README and abstracts.92. Most
files are compressed PostScript. The reports are also in a WAIS database
with the following description:

:version 3
:ip-name ""
:tcp-port 210
:database-name "nasa-larc-abs"
:cost 0.00
:cost-unit :free
:maintainer "M.L.Nelson@LaRC.NASA.GOV"
:description "NASA Langley Research Center Technical Reports



SpaceLink is an online service located at Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Alabama. The system is specifically designed for
teachers. The data base is arranged to provide easy access to current
and historical information on NASA aeronautics, space research, and
technology transfer information. Also included are suggested classroom
activities that incorporate information on NASA projects to teach a
number of scientific principles. Unlike bulletin board systems, NASA
Spacelink does not provide for interaction between callers. However it
does allow teachers and other callers to leave questions and comments
for NASA which may be answered by regular mail. Messages are answered
electronically, even to acknowledge requests which will be fulfilled by
mail. Messages are generally handled the next working day except during
missions when turnaround times increase. The mail system is closed-loop
between the user and NASA.

SpaceLink also offers downloadable shareware and public domain programs
useful for science educators as well as space graphics and GIF images
from NASA's planetary probes and the Hubble Telescope.

You can access SpaceLink via


Or you can dial in at (205)-895-0028 (300/1200/2400/9600(V.32) baud, 8
bits, no parity, 1 stop bit).

Most of this information is also available from the Ames server in


The National Space Science Data Center is the official clearinghouse for
NASA data. The data catalog (*not* the data itself) is available online:


Log in as "NODIS" (no password). You can also get the catalog by sending
email to ''.

You can also dial in at (301)-286-9000 (300, 1200, or 2400 baud, 8 bits,
no parity, one stop). At the "Enter Number:" prompt, enter MD and
carriage return. When the system responds "Call Complete," enter a few
more carriage returns to get the "Username:" and log in as "NODIS" (no

The system is menu-driven; topics available as of 3/93 are:

1 - Master Directory - NASA & Global Change
2 - Personnel Information Management System
3 - Nimbus-7 GRID TOMS Data
4 - Interplanetary Medium Data (OMNI)
5 - Request data and/or information from NSSDC
6 - Geophysical Models
7 - CANOPUS Newsletter
8 - International Ultraviolet Explorer Data Request
9 - CZCS Browse and Order Utility
10 - Astronomical Data Center (ADC)
11 - STEP Bulletin Board Service
12 - Standards and Technology Information System
13 - Planetary Science & Magellan Project Information
14 - Other Online Data Services at NSSDC
15 - CD-ROMS Available at NSSDC

For users with Internet access, datasets are made available via
anonymous FTP once you select the desired datasets from the online
catalog. For other users, data may be ordered on CD-ROM and in other
formats. Among the many types of data available are Voyager, Magellan,
and other planetary images, Earth observation data, and star catalogs.
Viewers for Macintosh and IBM systems are also available. As an example
of the cost, an 8 CD set of Voyager images is $75. Data may ordered
online, by email, or by physical mail. The postal address is:

National Space Science Data Center
Request Coordination Office
Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 633
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Telephone: (301) 286-6695

Email address:


STEIS contains a large amount of information about the Hubble Space
Telescope, such as status reports and newsletters, in addition to
material oriented towards HST observers and proposers. To get started,

Contact Pete Reppert ( or Chris O'Dea (


The Space Telescope European Coordination Facility, at ESO/Garching
provides on-line access to a huge astronomical database, featuring

- Observation log files of several satellites/telescopes
- Spectra and images (IUE, HST).
- Most of the astronomical catalogues (SAO, HR, NGC, PPM, IRAS,
Veron, GSC and many others, more than 50) in a very convenient
way (give center+radius+kind of objects, and you get the
corresponding files!).

Access at

telnet:// (or STESIS on DECnet).

Log in as "starcat" (no password). Files created can be retrieved via
FTP. Contact: Benoit Pirenne ( (phone +49 89 320 06
433) at ST-ECF


The full SAO stellar database is probably not available online yet. It
may be ordered on magnetic tape from the NSSDC. A subset containing
position and magnitude only is available by FTP (see "Astronomy
Programs" below).

contains a large collection of astronomical programs for many types of
computers, databases of stars and deep sky objects, and general
astronomy information. This site is mainly for European users, but
overseas connections are possible.

is a database of 8,436 galaxies including name, RA, declination,
magnitude, and radial velocity, supplied by Wayne Hayes

contains constellation boundary data (files constell.*) in a form
suitable for the construction of star charts and atlases.

contains a number of GIFs from Voyager, Hubble, and other sources (most
of this data is also in pub/SPACE/GIF on the Ames server). Please
restrict access to 5pm - 8am Atlantic time. (directory [ANONYMOUS.YALE_BSC])

contains the Yale Bright Star catalog. Web users, note that this is a
VMS site and Mosaic does not get along with their server, so this URL is
a placeholder - run FTP manually. Contact James Dishaw

The Hubble Guide Star catalog is available on CD-ROM for the Mac and PC
for $49.95 US (catalog #ST101).

Astronomical Society of the Pacific
390 Ashton Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94112
Phone: (415) 337-2624 9 AM - 3 PM Pacific Time
FAX: (415) 337-5205

For German (and possibly other European) readers, Jost Jahn
( has a mail service to distribute astronomical
data to interested amateurs at cost. About 30-40 catalogs are available
for DM 6..8/disk. Several floppy disk formats are available. He also has
a FAX service with current news on the observable sky. Email him if
interested in these services, or write:

Jost Jahn
Neustaedter Strasse 11
W-3123 Bodenteich
Phone: FRG-5824-3197
FAX: (49)-581-14824


A more complete list is posted monthly to sci.astro or available in

This list is maintained by Veikko Makela (Veikko.Makela@Helsinki.FI).

Some astronomy-related programs and databases archived from
Usenet source groups:
Moon phase and date routines
Another moon phase program
Show moon phase picture on Suns
Starchart program & Yale star data
Starchart program, version 3.2
Starchart program, update to version 3.2.1
Reduced SAO catalog
Orbit: track earth satellites
Plotter for Jupiter's major moons [in perl]
Lunisolar (not sure what this does)
Planet generation simulator

Xephem is an interactive astronomical ephemeris program for X11R4/Motif
1.1 (or later) X Windows systems. It computes lots of information about
the planets and any solar system objects for which orbital elements are
available. A sample database of some 16000+ objects is included in the
release kit. It's in

and has been submitted to comp.sources.x. Contact Elwood Downey
( Ephem is the forefather of xephem designed for
simple 24x80 character displays, in

XSAT, an X based satellite tracking program, is available in

Contact Dave Curry (

Xsky 2.0.1, a computerized sky atlas for the X Window System, is
available in (file path [.software.unix.xsky]xsky2-0-1.tarz)

(This is a VMS FTP site, so the URL is nonfunctioning). Contact Terry R.
Friedrichsen (

The "Variable Stars Analysis Software Archive" is in

This is intended for specialists in this field, and they would
appreciate people from outside New Zealand confining their FTP access to
the astrophys directory, as they pay a significant amount for Internet
access. Contributions are encouraged. Contact the archive administrator,
Timothy Banks (

The "IDL Astronomy Users Library" is in

This is a central repository for general purpose astronomy procedures
written in IDL, a commercial image processing, plotting, and programming
language. Contact Wayne Landsman (


The most recent orbital elements from the NASA Prediction Bulletins are
carried on the Celestial BBS, (513)-427-0674. Documentation and tracking
software are also available on this system. The Celestial BBS may be
accessed 24 hours/day at 300, 1200, or 2400 baud using 8 data bits, 1
stop bit, no parity.

Orbital element sets are FTPable from the following directories: NASA,TVRO,Shuttle NASA,TVRO,Molczan,CelBBS,Shuttle NASA,Molczan


Copies of back issues of Space Digest are archived on
LISTSERV@UGA.BITNET. Send mail containing the message "INDEX SPACE" to
get an index of files; send it the message "GET filename filetype" to
get a particular file.


You can get black-and-white 1:1M prints, negatives, or positives for
$10, $18, $12 respectively for any Landsat data more than 2 years old
from EDC, (Eros (Earth Resources Orbiting Satellite) Data Center). Call
them at (605)-594-6511. You get 80 meter resolution from the MSS
scanner, 135x180 kilometers on a picture 135x180 mm in size. I think you
have to select one band from (green, red, near IR, second near IR), but
I'm not sure. Digitial data is also available at higher prices.

Transparencies of all NASA photos available to the public can be
borrowed from the NASA photo archive; you can have copies or prints

NASA Audio-Visual Facility
918 North Rengstorff Ave
Mountain View, CA 94043


The following list gives brief references to maps of all bodies other
than Earth for which maps have been drawn - 45 by Nov. 1993. The list
will be updated periodically. Where many maps exist for a world (e.g.
Mars) a good general purpose global map is listed. Where appropriate
these are subdivided further: relief maps (usually with feature names),
topography (contours), geological maps etc. Otherwise (e.g. Deimos) the
best available map is listed. Some (e.g. Comet Encke) are very simple
diagrams of possible surface features ('sketch' under map type). A few
interesting atlases are listed at the end of the main table. Users
noting errors or omissions are urged to contact Phil Stooke at

References: USGS refers to the U.S. Geological Survey. Order maps by I-
number from USGS Map Sales, Box 25286, Denver, Colorado USA 80225. Most
maps cost about $3 per sheet (some listed maps are sets of several
sheets), but check cost with USGS before ordering. NASA Tech. Memo.
4395, 'Indexes of Maps of the Planets and Satellites 1992' by J.L. Inge
and R.M. Batson, is an excellent guide to sheet maps (but not the
journal illustrations). Apollo-era Moon maps (LAC, LTO) are mostly out
of print, but some may still be available from NSSDC (as are NASA
CD-ROMs): National Space Science Data Center, Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Maryland USA 20771. Other references are to books and
journals. Although not full bibliographic entries, to save space, there
should be enough information to enable the item to be found.

I will answer questions about planetary maps by e-mail at: (Phil Stooke)


Mercury relief USGS maps I-1149,1171,1822
geology USGS maps I-1199,1233,1408,1409,1658,1659,1660,
atlas Davies et al., ATLAS OF MERCURY, NASA SP-423, 1978
globe USGS (out of print- see at Cornell U. or LPI)
Venus relief USGS map I-2041 (Venera 15/16 data)
topography USGS map I-1324 (Pioneer Venus data)
+ GxDR CD-ROM (Magellan) available from NSSDC
geology USGS map I-2059 (Venera 15/16 data)
globe USGS (out of print - see at Cornell U. or LPI)
Moon relief USGS maps I-1218,1326,2276
topography NSSDC: LAC maps (earthside)+ LTO maps (Apollo zone)
geology USGS maps I-703,948,1034,1047,1062,1162,
+ Wilhelms, USGS Professional Paper 1348, 1987
+ A. Rukl, ATLAS OF THE MOON, Hamlyn, 1990
globe Replogle Globes (via Sky Publ., ads in SKY+TELESCOPE)
Mars relief USGS maps I-1618,2179
topography USGS map I-2160
+ MDIM CD-ROM, disk 7, available from NSSDC
geology USGS map I-1802
digital MDIM CD-ROMs, disks 1-6, available from NSSDC
atlas Batson et al., ATLAS OF MARS, NASA SP-438, 1979
globe Sky Publishing (ads in SKY+TELESCOPE)
Phobos outline Thomas, ICARUS, 40: 223-243, 1979
relief Bugaevsky et al., ADV.SPACE.RES. 12(9):17-21, 1992
topography Thomas, ICARUS, in press
globe Max Planck Institut fur Physik+Astrophys., 1988
Deimos outline Thomas, ICARUS, 40: 223-243, 1979
relief Stooke, SKY+TELESCOPE 69:551-553, 1985
topography Thomas, ICARUS, in press
Amalthea sketch Veverka et al., J.GEOPHYS.RES. 86:8675-8692, 1981
relief,top Stooke, EARTH,MOON,PLANETS 56:123-139, 1992
Io relief USGS map I-1713
topography Gaskell+Synnott,GEOPHYS.RES.LET. 15:581-584, 1988
geology USGS map I-2209
Europa relief USGS maps I-1241,1493,1499
geology SATELLITES OF JUPITER, Ch.14, U.Arizona Press, 1982
Ganymede relief USGS map I-2331
geology USGS map I-1934,1966 (13 other sheets to come)
Callisto relief USGS map I-1239,2035
Prometheus relief,top Stooke, EARTH,MOON,PLANETS, in press
Pandora relief,top Stooke, EARTH,MOON,PLANETS, in press
Janus relief,top Stooke, EARTH,MOON,PLANETS, in press
Epimetheus relief,top Stooke, EARTH,MOON,PLANETS, in press
Mimas relief USGS maps I-1489,2155
geology Croft, NASA TECH.MEM. 4300, 95-97, 1991
Enceladus relief USGS maps I-1485,2156
geology Smith et al., SCIENCE, 215:504-537, 1982
Tethys relief USGS maps I-1488,2158
geology Moore+Ahern, J.GEOPHYS.RES. 88:A577-A584, 1983
Dione relief USGS maps I-1487,2157
geology Moore, ICARUS, 59:205-220, 1984
Rhea relief USGS maps I-1484,1921
geology Moore et al., J.GEOPHYS.RES. 90:C785-C795, 1985
Titan sketch Lemmon et al., ICARUS 103:329-332, 1993
Hyperion sketch Thomas+Veverka, ICARUS, 64:414-424, 1985
Iapetus relief USGS maps I-1486,2159
geology Croft, NASA TECH.MEM. 4300, 101-103, 1991
Phoebe sketch Thomas et al., J.GEOPHYS.RES. 88:8736-8742, 1983
Puck sketch Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Miranda relief USGS map I-1920
topography Wu, LUNAR PLANET.SCI XVIII, 1110-1111, 1987
geology Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Ariel relief USGS map I-1920
geology Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Umbriel relief USGS map I-1920
geology Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Titania relief USGS map I-1920
geology Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Oberon relief USGS map I-1920
geology Croft+Soderblom, URANUS, U.Ariz.Press, 1991
Larissa relief Stooke, to be submitted to EARTH,MOON,PLANETS
Proteus sketch Croft, ICARUS, 99:402-419, 1992
relief,top Stooke, to be submitted to EARTH,MOON,PLANETS
Triton relief USGS map I-2153,2154,2275
geology Smith et al., SCIENCE 246:1422-1449, 1989
Pluto albedo Buie et al., ICARUS, 97:211-227, 1992
Charon albedo Buie et al., ICARUS, 97:211-227, 1992
4 Vesta sketch Stooke, ASTER.COMET.METEOR.'91 Proceedings, 1992
29 Amphitrite sketch Barucci et al., ASTER.COMET.METEOR.II, 89-92, 1986
243 Ida sketch Binzel et al., submitted to ICARUS.
532 Herculina sketch Taylor et al., ICARUS, 69:354-369, 1987
624 Hektor sketch Hartmann+Cruikshank, ICARUS, 36:353-366, 1978
951 Gaspra topography Thomas et al., ICARUS, in press
Comet Encke sketch Sekanina, ASTRON.J. 96:1455-1475, 1988
Comet Halley sketch Moehlmann+,COM.IN POST-HALLEY ERA,p.764,Kluwer 1991
relief,top Stooke+Abergel, ASTRON.ASTROPHYS. 248:656-668, 1991
Swift-Tuttle sketch Sekanina, ASTRON.J. 86:1741-1773, 1981
Tempel-2 sketch Sekanina, ASTRON.J. 102:350-388, 1991

Interesting atlases: (no single source has maps of all bodies listed above)

ATLAS PLANET ZEMNOI GRUPPA... (atlas of terrestrial planets), Russia, 1992
ATLAS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, Hunt & Moore (eds), Rand McNally, 1983
THE ASTRONOMER'S MANUAL, A. Rukl, Crescent Books, 1989.


The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams and the Minor Planet
Center announce the sixth edition of the Catalogue of Cometary Orbits in
IAU Circular 4935. The catalogue contains 1292 entries which represent
all known comets through November 1989 and is 96 pages long.
Non-subscribers to the Circulars may purchase the catalogue for $15.00
while the cost to subscribers is $7.50. The basic catalogue in ASCII
along with a program to extract specific orbits and calculate
ephemerides is available on MS-DOS 5.25-inch 2S2D diskette at a cost of
$75.00 (the program requires an 8087 math coprocessor). The catalogue
alone is also available by e-mail for $37.50 or on magnetic tape for

Except for the printed version of the catalogue, the various magnetic
media or e-mail forms of the catalogue do not specifically meantion
non-subscribers. It is possible that these forms of the catalogue may
not be available to non-subscribers or that their prices may be more
expensive than those given. Mail requests for specific information and
orders to:

Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

NEXT: FAQ #4/13 - Performing calculations and interpreting data formats

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This is a static and possibly incomplete copy of the USEnet SCI.SPACE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document dated March 1994 (before the material was copyrighted). The official copyrighted and and up-to-date FAQ is maintained by Jon Leech ( and is posted to Network News and available via the World Wide Web . KSC's Hypertext converter last run Thursday June 15 10:22:27 EDT 1995