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Research Geologist Position

Thursday, October 14, 2010

  • Are you a recent PhD graduate in planetary science looking for a research opportunity?
  • Do you have a passion for planetary geology?
  • Do you want to be part of an important aspect of ground breaking research in planetary science?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, then this is the job for you! Come join the USGS and start doing the job you've always dreamed of!

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IT Specialist Positions Available

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Come join the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona and start doing the job you've always dreamed of! Help to grow our high performance computing datacenter for processing digital images from planetary spacecraft missions including the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, & Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Our Linux-based servers and compute clusters provide raw processing power to 80+ employees. We have two 50+ CPU compute clusters, along with 400+ terabytes of disk storage capacity.

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Shoemaker Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Opening

Friday, July 30, 2010

The U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, has a two-year full-time research position now open. The position is at the GS-12 grade level (comparable to a post-doctoral researcher in academia). Funded by the NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics (PGG) Program, this position is generally known as the NASA 'Shoemaker Fellow' at USGS in honor of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker. The selected Fellow will work at the Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff on a variety of research projects in planetary science. The position is managed and supervised by the Astrogeology Science Center. The application opportunity will be open from 7/29/10 to 8/18/10.

Continue reading "Shoemaker Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Opening"

Interdisciplinary (Physical Scientist, Geophysicist, Cartographer, Geodesist or Mathematician) Position

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interdisciplinary (Physical Scientist, Geophysicist, Cartographer, Geodesist or Mathematician) Position, U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center, Flagstaff, AZ

The USGS Astrogeology Science Center has immediate openings for one or more full-time permanent interdisciplinary positions that may be filled as a Physical Scientist, Geophysicist, Cartographer, Geodesist or Mathematician. This is a high-profile, high-impact opportunity to support NASA planetary missions and science studies by developing new planetary topographic mapping techniques and supporting planetary cartographic projects.

The following positions are now open and have a Closing Date of 6/4/2010. Applicants eligible under merit promotion procedures (those with permanent federal status, veterans, etc.) should also apply under the merit promotion announcement as listed:

Title: Interdisciplinary (Physical Scientist, Geophysicist, Cartographer, Geodesist or Mathematician)
Announcement: WR-2010-0248
Merit Promotion Announcement: WR-2010-0342
Job Series and Grade: GS-1301, 1313, 1370, 1372 or 1520, grade 9/11/12
Salary: GS-9: $47,448 - $61,678; GS-11 $57,408-$74,628; GS-12 $68,809-$89,450

Title: Interdisciplinary (Physical Scientist, Geophysicist, Cartographer, Geodesist or Mathematician)
Announcement: WR-2010-0303
Merit Promotion Announcement: WR-2010-0344
Job Series and Grade: GS-1301, 1313, 1370, 1372 or 1520, grade 13
Salary: $81,823- $106,369

Qualifications for a given job series and grade level are based on education and experience (see advertisement on USAJOBS for details). Successful applicants will have professional to advanced knowledge in one or more of photogrammetry, geodesy, cartography, remote sensing, mathematics, image processing, and computer vision (camera models, feature-based image matching, stereo vision, object tracking). Greatly preferred is experience establishing regional- to global-scale control networks or reference frames; using or developing components of digital photogrammetric workstations and digital cartographic software packages, with one or more computer programming or scripting languages (preferably C, C++, Python or Perl); and with project management.

For position details and to apply online, visit USAJOBS at

  • In the ‘What: (keywords)’ box, enter 1372
  • In the ‘Where: (city, state or zip code)’ box, enter Flagstaff
  • Click on Search Jobs
  • To locate merit promotion advertisements, click on “All jobs, public and status” under Current Search to see all four advertisements.
  • View advertisement
  • Follow instructions under “How to apply”

For questions, call 916-278-9399, or email To learn more about Astrogeology, visit To learn more about Flagstaff, visit The USGS is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.

Where Did Water Flow on Mars?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Modeling Mars' surface in search of ancient rivers and oceans

Was there ever life on Mars? Many would like to believe that we used to have relatives who lived nearby. The likelihood that life existed on Mars is higher than for any other planet in the solar system. Because all known forms of life require water, the evidence that water once flowed on Mars is essential to prove that life existed there. Conversely, the possibility of life cannot definitely be rejected unless it is conclusively demonstrated that there was never water in a liquid form on Mars.


New Google Moon features USGS Astro's work!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

google moon screenshot
Screenshot of the Google Moon webpage, displaying map of the Apollo 17 landing site and a photo of Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt at Tracy's Rock.

Google Moon has been completely revamped, and now features a variety of images and maps created by the USGS Astrogeology Research Program, including a global mosaic from the Clementine mission, terrain, shaded relief map, geologic maps, and high resolution Apollo maps. For more information about the contributors, see the About Google Moon page.

Mars Digital Dune Database

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mars Dunes database screenshot
Mars Digital Dune Database

The Mars Global Digital Dune Database presents data and describes the methodology used in creating the database. The database provides a comprehensive and quantitative view of the geographic distribution of moderate- to large-size dune fields from 65° north to 65° south latitude and encompasses approximately 550 dune fields.

The database is presented in a variety of formats. It is presented as a series of ArcReader projects which can be opened using the free ArcReader software. The latest version of ArcReader can be downloaded at the ESRI web site. The database is also presented in ArcMap projects. The ArcMap projects allow fuller use of the data, but require ESRI ArcMap software. Multiple projects were required to accommodate the large number of images needed. A fuller description of the projects can be found in the Dunes_ReadMe file and the ReadMe_GIS file in the Documentation folder. For users who prefer to create their own projects, the data is available in ESRI shapefile and geodatabase formats, as well as the open Geographic Markup Language (GML) format. A printable map of the dunes and craters in the database is available as a Portable Document Format (PDF) document. The map is also included as a JPEG file. ReadMe files are available in PDF and ASCII (.txt) files. Tables are available in both Excel (.xls) and ASCII formats.

USGS: Mars Digital Dune Database - Download the database and view additional information

USGS Astro: Mars Dunes - learn more about the project and participants

Global Warming on Mars

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Presented by: Paul Geissler, Research Geologist, USGS-Astrogeology Team

Date: June 15th, 2007
Time: 12:00 PM
Building: #3 (Powell)
Room: 367
Location: Flagstaff Science Center, 2255 N. Gemini Dr. (Adjacent to Buffalo Park)



New Release: Clementine NIR Full-Resolution Lunar Mosaic (V. 0.1)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

We are pleased to announce the availability of a full-resolution version of the Clementine near-infrared (NIR) lunar mosaic. Processed to 100 m/pixel spatial resolution, a PDS-compliant image cube version (with detached ISIS labels) of this 6-band (1100 to 2780 nm) multispectral mosaic can be viewed or downloaded via FTP from the PDS Imaging Node's FTP site. This Preliminary Release (V. 0.1) of the full-resolution mosaic marks the beginning of the review process by PDS peer reviewers. Users of these data should keep in mind that this version remains subject to revision pending the outcome of this review process.

These full-resolution data are compatible with the previous PDS Clementine UVVIS 'Full Resolution Digital Image Model' available through PDS Map-a-Planet and the PDS Planetary Image Atlas. Once finalized, these multispectral data will also be available through these Web sites.

See documentation on the FTP site for more details.

Download the data from the PDS Imaging Node's FTP site (

  • Server:
  • User: anonymous
  • Password: your e-mail address
  • Directory: /cdroms/clementine/Clem_NIR_V0.1/

Visit our Clementine Near-Infrared Global Map page for more lunar images and information!

Larry Soderblom Receives Presidential Rank Award

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Each year, the President recognizes and celebrates a small group of career Senior Executives with the President's Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Beginning with awards granted in 2003, eligibility for this award is extended to other categories of high-performing senior career employees. Winners of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

Congratulations to Larry Soderblom for winning the 2006 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional! Larry has been involved in numerous JPL planetary missions including the Mariner 6, 7, and 9, Viking, Voyager, Magellan, Galileo, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder, Deep Space 1, Cassini, Huygens, and the Mars Exploration Rovers. From 1978 to 1996 he twice served as Chief of the Branch of Astrogeology of the United States Geological Survey. During 1983-84 he was a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech. He attended New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology receiving two Bachelor Degrees in geology and in physics and Caltech where he received a PhD in planetary science and geophysics. Soderblom has been engaged in a broad collection of planetary research tasks including theoretical modeling of planetary surface processes and ground-based and spacecraft instrument development. Currently he is heavily involved in the Mars Exploration Rover and the Cassini-Huygens Missions.

More: U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Presidential Rank Awards

Digital "Guide to Lunar Orbiter Photographs" (NASA SP-242) Available!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

NASA SP-242 - Guide to Lunar Orbiter Photographs (PDF, 99MB): Download a digital version of the 1970 NASA publication, Guide to Lunar Orbiter Photographs (NASA SP-242). This document can be viewed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Astrogeology’s Scientist Helps Solve Martian Riddle

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tim Titus
Timothy Titus

What causes puzzling dark spots, spider-shaped features, and fan-like markings on the icecap at the Martian south pole?

Usually, there are dark spots, typically 50 to 150 feet wide, that are spaced several hundred feet apart and that appear every southern spring as the Sun rises over the icecap. The dark spots last for several months and then vanish, only to reemerge the following year after winter's cold deposits a fresh layer of ice on the cap. Even stranger, the spots seem to reoccur annually in the same locations.

The research of Astrogeology (USGS) Space Scientist, Timothy Titus,(left) in collaboration with Hugh Kieffer (USGS-retiree) and Phil Christensen of ASU research, appears in the August 17, 2006 issue of the scientific journal Nature. Perchance they’ve solved the riddle, although Titus says, “There remain some outstanding questions."

Previous studies suggested that the dark features were areas of early ice defrosting and exposition of dark soil. However the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) showed that the temperatures of the spots indicated they were far too cold to be bare soil. "We started looking at all of the THEMIS infrared and visual images in the Cryptic region, looking for an area that demonstrated the dynamic nature of the spots," Titus said. "Phil was the one who discovered this area, which we call "Manhattan Island" due to its appearance. We then targeted the THEMIS cameras to take almost daily pictures of the region. The result was a blockbuster movie of one of the most dynamic regions on Mars.

Continue reading "Astrogeology’s Scientist Helps Solve Martian Riddle"

USGS in the News

Monday, July 17, 2006

Star Tales
Hear the interview! Interview with author Gerald Schaber (MP3 audio, 17MB)

An Interview with Gerald G. Schaber

Monday, July 10, 2006

schaber figure 2
Jerry Schaber

A "must read" Open File Report that is a comprehensive account of the USGS participation in the Apollo era, from its conception through the end of Project Apollo, has been completed by Gerald G. “Jerry” Schaber during the time he was with the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology, working as a Scientist Emeritus. We talk with the man behind the book, who filled that significant gap of history with regard to the participation of the USGS.

Every story has a heart and a soul, and Jerry hands these rich gifts to the reader with respect and perspective. Now Jerry shares with us, the thinking behind the book.

Hear the interview! Interview with author Gerald Schaber (MP3 audio, 17MB)

Q. Tell us, how does it feel to have completed the open file report?

A. Well, it feels very good as you might expect. It was a long time in coming.

Q. How long did it take?

A. I started in 2000, encouraged by Wes Ward, Carolyn Shoemaker and other people at the time to do it. I finished in 2002, but it was in editing ever since.

Continue reading "An Interview with Gerald G. Schaber"

Map-a-Planet Recognized as Valuable Resource

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Map-a-PlanetAmerican Scientist Online, 10 April 2006: The U.S. Geolgoical Survey, Branch of Astrogeology's Map-a-Planet was chosen for "Site of the Week," in American Scientist Online. American Scientist is a magazine of SIGMA XI, a scientific research society. Congratulations Patty Garcia, Lisa Gaddis, Chris Isbell, Janet Barrett, Deborah Soltesz, and Annie Bennett. Read what was reported by this web site, verbatim, below:

The U.S. Geological Survey goes far beyond its national ambit with this friendly, intuitive tool. Choosing from a growing array of datasets, visitors can create customized, browsable maps of Venus, Mars or any of six moons, including our own.

The interface offers three levels. The "easy" version assigns default values for size, resolution, format and projection; these values can be customized in the "intermediate" version via a simple control panel (choose a Mercator projection, for example, or assign a specific resolution). The advanced version provides full control of all variables. The completed maps can be panned, zoomed or resized, and are downloadable either directly via the user's browser or via ftp.

Though the interface is not as polished as that in Google's browsable maps of the moon and Mars, the USGS offering goes much farther afield, offering detailed views of Saturn's moon Rhea and Jupiter's Callisto, Europa, Io and Ganymede. It offers hours of fascinating exploration of a solar system that's at once strikingly alien and increasingly familiar.

View the original article on the American Scientist Online

Map-a-Planet was also recognized in the Resource section of the May 2006 issue of The Geological Society of America's online magazine, GSA Connection.

View the original issue of the GSA Connection