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PG Group History

The Planetary Geology Group and the Space Photography Laboratory (SPL) were established with the move of Dr. Ronald Greeley to Arizona State University in 1977 from NASA-Ames Research Center. Initial SPL collections were based on materials he obtained as a Planetary Geology Principal Investigator and as a member of the Viking Orbiter science team. Current planetary material includes images of the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and Earth (for various areas in which field studies were conducted), as well as asteroids, comets, and outer planet satellites.

In 1981, the Image Processing Facility (IPF) was established as part of the Planetary Geology Group and SPL, adding the capability to work with digital data and to produce high-quality film-recorded images. A photographic darkroom was made part of the planetary facilities to enable hardcopy production for use in research and to maintain the collections of SPL. The initial IPF was based on hardware and software adapted from the design used by the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff through the help and advice of the Astrogeology Branch. Improvements and upgrades have been made in the ensuing years, drawing on advice from the U.S.G.S. and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

As part of the group's research on aeolian processes, the Planetary Geology Laboratory was established along with an atmospheric boundary-layer wind tunnel. Similar group research also continues at the ASU Planetary Aeolian Laboratory at NASA-Ames Research Center (http://thermo-physics.arc.nasa.gov/PAL.htm) near San Francisco, CA. This facility has two wind tunnels that simulate the surface pressures on Mars and Titan.

Prof. Ronald Greeley was the Director of the Planetary Geology Group and the SPL until he passed away in 2012. Assistant Research Professor Dr. David A Williams is the current director of the facility, now renamed the Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies. The PG Group is under the administration of the School of Earth and Space Exploration (Prof. Kip Hodges, Director) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at Arizona State University, and is partly supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs.


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