Since the beginning of planetary exploration, mapping has been fundamental to summarize observations returned by scientific missions. Sensor-based mapping has been used to highlight specific features from the planetary surfaces by means of processing. Interpretative mapping makes use of instrumental observations to produce thematic maps that summarize observations of actual data into a specific theme. Geologic maps, for example, are thematic interpretative maps that focus on the representation of materials and processes and their relative timing. The advancements in technology of the last 30 years have allowed us to develop specialized systems where the mapping process can be made entirely in the digital domain. The spread of networked computers on a global scale allowed the rapid propagation of software and digital data such that every researcher can now access digital mapping facilities on his desktop. The efforts to maintain planetary missions data accessible to the scientific community have led to the creation of standardized digital archives that facilitate the access to different datasets by software capable of processing these data from the raw level to the map projected one. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been developed to optimize the storage, the analysis, and the retrieval of spatially referenced Earth based environmental geodata; since the last decade these computer programs have become popular among the planetary science community, and recent mission data start to be distributed in formats compatible with these systems. Among all the systems developed for the analysis of planetary and spatially referenced data, we have created a working environment combining two software suites that have similar characteristics in their modular design, their development history, their policy of distribution and their support system. The first, the Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) developed by the United States Geological Survey, represents the state of the art for processing planetary remote sensing data, from the raw unprocessed state to the map projected product. The second, the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) is a Geographic Information System developed by an international team of developers, and one of the core projects promoted by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). We have worked on enabling the combined use of these software systems throughout the set-up of a common user interface, the unification of the cartographic reference system nomenclature and the minimization of data conversion. Both software packages are distributed with free open source licenses, as well as the source code, scripts and configuration files hereafter presented. In this paper we describe our work done to merge these working environments into a common one, where the user benefits from functionalities of both systems without the need to switch or transfer data from one software suite to the other one. Thereafter we provide an example of its usage in the handling of planetary data and the crafting of a digital geologic map. ?? 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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A working environment for digital planetary data processing and mapping using ISIS and GRASS GIS