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Frequently Asked Question
What is PDS?
PDS is the Planetary Data System, a NASA-funded organization that archives and distributes planetary data to the science community. It exists as a geographically distributed set of Nodes, each responsible for a particular kind of data. Read more on the Background page at this site and on the PDS Home Page.
How much does it cost to obtain PDS data?
Data sets archived in the PDS are in the public domain. They are provided at no charge to NASA-funded scientists. Others may request copies of PDS data sets on CD or DVD from the National Space Science Data Center, where a small service fee is charged. The most popular PDS data sets are online and may be downloaded by anyone for free.
What if the data set I want is not online?
Ask the PDS Node responsible for the data set whether it can be put online for you. (This may not be possible for some very old or very large data sets.)
Are there any restrictions on the use of PDS data?
PDS data sets are classified TSPA (Technology and Software Publicly Available) by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, and may be exported outside the United States as public open literature. When PDS data sets are used in published literature or other applications, they should be cited appropriately (see below).
How should PDS data sets be cited in scientific literature?
PDS data sets should be cited in the same way that published research is cited. See the Policy for Citations of PDS Data.
How do I display a PDS image?
A PDS image is stored as a binary array with a plain-text PDS label either embedded at the beginning of the file or in a separate file. The label has all the information needed to enable image display programs to read and display the image. NASAVIew is a free program from PDS that will display a PDS-labeled image. PDS deliberately does not use any commercial or proprietary formats to archive image data, in order to ensure the long-term viability of the data.
I have been asked to help review a new PDS data set. What do I do?
The input of peer reviewers is very important to us. Please read the Help for Data Reviewers, and if you still have questions, email us at