GIS isn’t just about the earth. From Mars Global Surveyor to Cassini to New Horizon, if there’s a probe snapping pictures of extraterrestrial bodies, GIS can and is being used to interpret much of their remotely sensed data. GIS and heavenly bodies go hand in hand.
Because terrestrial planets and moons are spatially investigable, ArcGIS has traditionally supported extraterrestrial coordinate systems and projections in core ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Enterprise products since the version 9.x days. As GIS continued to democratize, grow, and expand into web GIS, support for extraterrestrial coordinate systems (projections) was never migrated over to ArcGIS Online.
Additionally, in a future release, expect support for:
104971 (Mars 2000 [Sphere])
104972 (1 Ceres 2015)
104973 (4 Vesta 2015)
104974 (Mercury 2015)
NASA’s announcement last month of the 7 planets in the Trappist-I system showed the underlying excitement to study our neighboring solar systems by the general populace. We’ll leave the “getting there” part to NASA and its private partners. However, we’ll avidly be standing by to spatially orient the data collected from their missions.
Our hope is that we can continually assist scientists with the tools to determine the best landing sites and their proximity to resources, expected topographical and geologic challenges upon arrival, and strategies for inhabitation moving forward. (Internally, we’re still trying to convince Jack that GIS could also stand for Galactic Information System; we’ll see how far we get!).
Finally, if you’re curious to know more on how GIS can help to educate others on Planetary Science, you can learn more about our home solar system in the meantime by browsing the interactive maps in the Solar System Atlas by clicking here.
Before you go, Esri would like to recognize and extend a special thanks to Dr. Fred Calef of NASA JPL, Emily Law of NASA JPL, Trent Hare of USGS, Dr. Kara Latorella of NASA Langley, and Matt Tisdale of Booz Allen Hamilton at NASA Langley, for their requirements gathering, dedicated commentary, and testing assistance to make this functionality a reality for the entire Planetary Sciences community. Please give these folks a pat on the back if you see them!