Precision Pointing Reconstruction and Backplanes in Support of Cassini Remote Sensing Science

Grant #: NNX14AE23G
Senior Scientist: Mark Showalter


The objective of this proposal is to generate several higher-order data products that will substantially reduce the level of effort required to analyze Cassini's optical remote sensing data sets (ISS, VIMS, CIRS and UVIS), by eliminating the need for most scientists to perform their own navigation and geometric reconstruction. The key product to be delivered to the PDS will be a complete instrument pointing reconstruction with precision suitable for the analysis of most narrow-angle images. In addition, we will deliver a comprehensive set of "backplanes," which describe the geometric content of each sample within each data product from the remote sensing instruments. This will enable most scientists to focus on their research rather than on software development and potentially tedious data analysis steps. This project therefore has the potential to open up the Cassini data sets to much broader participation and also to reduce the overall cost of Cassini data analysis to NASA. This effort will build upon new software developed at the PDS Rings Node, and already in use for "OPUS" (, the geometric search engine funded by PDS and the Cassini Project. Initial tests demonstrate the feasibility of this ambitious goal. Key tasks supported by this project will be to develop additional ways to determine robust pointing corrections, and to automate the entire procedure. Extensive quality-control tests and a peer review will be performed to ensure the accuracy of the final products. We will deliver an initial set of products as quickly as possible, so that users can benefit from our work and so that their feedback can enable us to make further refinements. When the project is completed, we will also publish all details of our methods in an appropriate scientific journal.