Information for Data Proposers


In response to a 2013 federal mandate the NASA Plan for Increasing Access to the Results of Scientific Research was developed to guide the management of and access to research data and peer-reviewed publications. Accordingly, the NASA Guidebook for Proposers describes the requirement that all proposals submitted under a NASA funding opportunity are required to submit a Data Management Plan. This website contains information and links that NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS) believes will be helpful in preparing your proposal and your Data Management Plan, or simply as you develop a plan for archiving your data even if not as part of a funded proposal. If you have additional questions contact either the PDS or the relevant NASA Program Officer.

The intent of this website is to provide potential data providers with an overview of the appropriateness of the PDS as an archive for their data, the procedure for requesting letters of support for grant proposals, and the steps that a data provider would take in the generation of a PDS-compliant archive.

Frequently Asked (FAQs)

Is the PDS the right archive for me?

Your data are important and should be preserved as part of the scientific record. One of the first questions is whether your data belong in the PDS. In general, the PDS archives data from NASA’s interplanetary missions as well as higher order data products derived from those primary mission data, and ground-based observations, laboratory and analog field measurements acquired in support of NASA's planetary science goals and objectives. The PDS generally does not archive software, simulation results, or physical specimens, but potential data providers are encouraged to discuss their data with the PDS as there are some exceptions. If you determine that the PDS is not the right archive for you, here are some data repositories that may be more appropriate for your data. Proposers are also encouraged to review the ROSES Appendix C.1 section on Data Management Plans and Archiving for guidance concerning software, physical specimens, and other forms of data not archived by the PDS. If you remain unsure, fill out and submit the form described below and the PDS node will evaluate your data for suitability for the PDS and recommend alternative archives if appropriate.

Why should I archive my data with the PDS?

The PDS offers several distinct advantages that make it the premier archive of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Planetary Science Division. Benefits of archiving data in the PDS include:

  • Long-term preservation: Data in the PDS are archived and made available online to the scientific community, but they are also preserved in long-term storage so that they will be usable and accessible for future generations of planetary scientists. The PDS standards (acceptable data formats and archive structures) are designed with this long-term accessibility and usability in mind.
  • Peer review: Unlike data repositories that simply store data, the PDS conducts a peer review of all data submitted for archiving. This ensures compliance with the well-defined data and archive standards as well as quality, as the data and their corresponding documentation are reviewed by scientific peers for their validity and usability.
  • Managed by a team of scientists: Because the PDS nodes are managed by scientists in various disciplines related to planetary science, they are able to help users select, understand, and work with planetary data. Data providers receive expert advice from a science staff knowledgeable in their field and experienced with archiving and using the type of data they will be submitting.
  • Citable: Data in the PDS are citable, either by the assignment of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or through the PDS product logical identifiers.

Where in the PDS should my data go?

The Planetary Data System is organized as a federation of six science discipline nodes focusing on Atmospheres, Geosciences, Cartography and Imaging Sciences, Planetary Plasma Interactions, Ring-Moon Systems, and Small Bodies. It also has two support nodes: the Engineering Node and the Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility. Below is a summary of where your data may potentially be archived. For more details, see their node descriptions and links to their web pages.

If your intended archival data products are derived from or directly related to data from a specific mission, then the archiving node for those mission data usually would be the logical repository for your derived data. We realize that some of the boundaries between nodes are ambiguous. If you are unsure about which node is the best choice for your data, select one that seems appropriate and we will help ensure you find the best fit. Please select the most appropriate node from the following:

  • Atmospheres - composition, structure, meteorology, and aeronomy of planetary atmospheres
  • Geosciences - geology, geophysics, surface properties, and tectonics of the Moon and terrestrial planets, laboratory spectra
  • Small Bodies - comets, icy bodies, asteroids, dwarf planets, small planetary satellites, meteorites, dust
  • Cartography and Imaging Sciences - planetary cartographic products and geospatial images, icy moons and satellites
  • Planetary Plasma Interactions - solar wind - planetary interactions, planetary magnetospheres, ionospheres and plasma tori
  • Ring-Moon Systems - planetary rings and moons as dynamical systems
  • Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) - navigation and ancillary data in the form of SPICE system kernels
  • Don't Know - If you are unsure, for example if your data may be applicable to multiple nodes, submit the form below with your best guess, and the PDS will help guide you in the right direction.

For data derived from laboratory experiments, field campaigns, or telescopic observations, pick the most relevant subject matter of the discipline node.

Next step: Request a letter of support

Do I need a letter of support for my proposal?

It depends on the program; consult your program guidelines. Even if it is not required, a letter of support can be a good addition to your proposal. If in doubt, contact the relevant node at least a week before the proposal deadline and they can help you decide.

If I am preparing a proposal, how can I request a letter of support from the PDS?

See Requesting a Letter of Support for more details.

When will I receive my letter of support?

A node representative will contact you within a day or two of your request, and will ask for additional information if needed. Often the nodes may ask to see a draft Data Management Plan; if one is not required, then they may request information on the number and volume of products you expect to deliver, the data source, and the expected PDS4 formats. It may take a few more days to collect the needed information and prepare the letter. Requests submitted later than one week before the proposal deadline will be handled on a best-effort basis and the letter of support may not be provided in time.

How do I prepare my Data Management Plan to include PDS archiving?

See Develop a Data Management Plan for more details.

How do I get my data into the PDS?

Once you have your Letter of Support and your proposal has been accepted, contact your PDS Discipline Node representative to kick-off communication and the archiving process.

You can then proceed onto Guidelines for Archiving Data in the PDS for more details on the process.

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Requesting a Letter of Support

Fill out this form and email to the appropriate PDS Node as described at the end of the form. To accommodate your request given the large number of proposers we work with and to be sure to receive your letter in time for the proposal deadline, please send your request at least one week in advance.

Download Form

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Develop a Data Management Plan (DMP)

  • If proposing to a NASA ROSES program: Please read the ROSES DMP FAQs page for DMP requirements, which includes a DMP template.
  • If proposing to another R&A program: Please consult the program solicitation or Program Officer for DMP requirements.

Including PDS Archiving in your Data Management Plan:
While the PDS will determine the suitability of data products for archiving in the PDS and can prepare a letter of support for a proposal, the PDS does not evaluate the merit of DMPs for proposals. However, the PDS can offer suggestions or answer questions specifically related to archiving data in the PDS. Please refer to Guidelines for Archiving Data for considerations when including PDS archiving in your Data Management Plan. Some important questions to ask as you prepare your DMP include:

  • Does the DMP describe the source of the data to be archived?
  • Does the DMP contain an estimate of the volume and file format(s) of the data that will be generated?
  • Has the team assessed the proposed data formats and evaluated them for compliance with the current PDS standards (PDS4)?
  • Is the personnel profile (in Full Time Equivalents, or FTEs) adequate for producing the archive and managing its ingestion into PDS in accordance with NASA guidelines?
  • Does the DMP contain a clearly defined schedule for archive development? Does it include major archive design milestones, early generation of sample data, peer review of the pipeline, and subsequent lien removal?
  • The PDS does not archive software or physical materials. Does the DMP identify appropriate alternative archives/repositories for these data products?
  • Does the proposal identify a data manager who is familiar with PDS requirements to lead the successful completion of data planning and archiving?
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Other Data Repositories

Many science journals now adhere to the FAIR data standard, which specifies that science data should be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. To this end, authors are required to archive the data supporting their publications in a public data repository. The effort involved in submitting data to PDS—labeling, documenting, and possibly reformatting the data products—may not be justified for a small, simple data set. In this case the PDS recommends submitting the data to one of the many available online data repositories, such as

On the other hand, if you believe your data would be a useful addition to the PDS, and you are unsure if it belongs, send an email inquiry or request a letter of support, and we can help work with you to determine if the data is appropriate.

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