Join Donate

Emily LakdawallaSeptember 21, 2016

Where to find rapidly released space image data

I post a lot about processing the image data returned from spacecraft into gorgeous space photos, such as this one:

Moons on a ring plane

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / Judy Schmidt

Moons on a ring plane
Titan, Dione, and Epimetheus are easily visible in this 15 panel mosaic, imaged by Cassini on 5 January 2006.

For those of you who are interested in checking out this exciting hobby, following is a list of many current data sources for rapidly released planetary image data. You may also want to check out my explainer on data types and software tools, my space image processing tutorials, and the work of amateur space image processing enthusiasts.

Missions that release image data directly (or nearly directly) to the Internet upon receipt from space

Missions that release image data in batches within weeks of receipt from space

Missions that do very rapid (within weeks to 3 months) release of science-quality data

(Apart from the ones mentioned above)

All other NASA and ESA planetary mission data becomes public eventually, typically released between 6 and 12 months after acquisition, to NASA's Planetary Data System or ESA's Planetary Science Archive. There's a bit of a learning curve involved, but it can be really rewarding to dig through these archives. Here's an introductory explainer on the PDS.

Go forth and enjoy all the pretty pictures! 

Read more: data art (was amateur image processing), explaining image processing

You are here:
Emily Lakdawalla 2017 headshot square serene
Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

Comments & Sharing
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

The Planetary Fund

Help advance robotic and human space exploration, defend our planet, and search for life.


"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

Sign Up for Email Updates