From Astrodocs


PILOT stands for the Planetary Image LOcator Tool. The PILOT tool is a web based search tool for the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database of the Planetary Data System (PDS). PILOT can be reached at the following link http://pilot.wr.usgs.gov. PILOT was developed by the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and the NASA PDS Imaging Node.


Software Features

PILOT offers access to NASA's largest spacecraft imagery archive and tools to locate relevant images. These tools include:

  • Navigable map
  • Bounding box searches
  • North and south polar stereographic projections (moon, mars, and mercury)
  • Multiple instrument searches
  • Geometry constraints (e.g., incidence angle, solar longitude, pixel resolution and phase angle)
  • Date and description constraints
  • Thumbnails and browse images
  • Downloads

UPC Searches

PILOT searches the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database maintained by the USGS Astrogeology Research Group. The UPC is a database containing improved geometric and positional information about planetary image data that has been computed using a uniform coordinate system and projection onto a common (preferably 3D) planetary surface shape. The goals of the UPC are to build a uniform geometric database for all planetary orbital remote sensing data using the most current coordinate system and to make this database available to the scientific community in a variety of useful forms. The intent of the UPC is to provide the most accurate geometry, coordinates, and positional information for images taken by various spacecraft. The database is regularly being updated by both new and recalculated image data.

How Data Is Processed For Inclusion in the UPC

Positional and instrumental ‘metadata’ are extracted from PDS image labels and used to calculate detailed geometric data for a given image in the UPC database. The database is populated with up-to-date SPICE kernels, and improved pointing and location data are calculated for corners, edges, and for potentially every pixel in an image. The UPC benefits from image positional refinements resulting from cartographic processing and map development at USGS. The USGS Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) system is the primary tool for computing, maintaining, and continually improving the UPC database. An ISIS camera model for a given imaging instrument is required for ingestion of image data into the UPC.

Choosing a Planetary Target

Image:PILOT target chooser.png
Target chooser interface available at PILOT[http://pilot.wr.usgs.gov/

The PILOT homepage offers PILOT news and a target chooser interface. The quick links provide a way to jump directly to the navigational map for a selected body.

  • The target chooser interface allows the user to select the planetary target they want to search.
  • When the user clicks a target, information will be provided on the the amount of images stored in the UPC, ordered by the instruments available.
Image:PILOT image sets.PNG
PILOT image sets for Mars, organized by various instruments used to capture image data on the planet.
  • The user may choose any number of instruments relevant to them.
  • The planet's map provides another option for filtering PILOT's results.

Additional options on the instrument-selection page include statistics on the images gathered by that instrument (available by clicking on the histogram icon) and advanced search settings (available by clicking on the wrench icon).

Mapped VS Unmapped

The PILOT web interface now reports both the images that have successfully generated a footprint geometry (“mapped”) with associated photometric keywords (e.g. Mean Ground Resolution, Incidence Angle, Phase Angle, Emission Angle, and Solar Longitude) but also the images which have failed to process (“unmapped”). Unmapped images are often simply those data acquired for calibration, limb views, or other images that don’t intersect a planetary body. By reporting the number of both mapped and unmapped images, the user sees information on the completeness and quality of a data set as well as the number of products acquired during different phases of a mission.

PILOT Console

Image:Pilot_top_bar_w_shadow.png At the top of the Pilot interface is a menu bar that allows you to manage how you view the data in Pilot.

Choosing map projection

Choose Map Projection

These three buttons let you choose between North Polar (top button), simple cylindrical (middle button), and South Polar (bottom button) map projections for navigating the planetary target.

Latitude Type, Longitude Direction and Longitude Degrees

Latitude/Longitude Settings

These drop-downs will not effect the map. They will only effect how the latitude and longitude are reported. The map will always be presented in 0 to 360 positive east. The drop-downs enable the user to alter the reporting of longitude direction (Positive East or Positive West), the longitude degrees (either 0 to 360 or -180 to 180), and the latitude type (planetographic or planetocentric).

Footprint Key

Footprint Key
After a search completes a footprint key will appear in the console. The key will match a color to each instrument searched on. The color will correspond to the color of the footprints rendered on the map.

Total, Page, and Rendered Footprints

Total, Page, and Rendered

The *total* counter reports the amount of hits found. The page drop-down will page through the result set. The *rendered* counter reports how many footprints are rendered on the map. To avoid clutter, PILOT limits the results to one hundred hits per page.


Search Results