Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Personal tools

You are here: Home / Standards / IPDA Data Standards Policy

IPDA Data Standards Policy

IPDA Standards Compliance for New Data Providers and Archivists

April 2010 (new)

July 2010 (update)


Policy: Planetary Science datasets shall be considered IPDA compliant if they adhere to a standard checklist that define their organization, structure and semantics.  The checklist is based on the NASA Planetary Science Data Standards, version 3, the de facto standard at the founding of the IPDA.


Planetary Science Data Archives are considered IPDA compliant if they adhere to the following standards and conventions:


A.     Adopt version 3 of the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) Standards with emphasis on the following conventions:

  • Use only PDS-compliant data formats and data types for data products per Chapter 3 (DATA_TYPE Values and Data File Storage Formats) and Appendix C (Internal Representation of Data Types). For example, GIF images are not allowed except as browse images.
  • Use only PDS-approved compression formats, per Appendix I (Data Compression Formats)
  • Use PDS3 label methods and label formats, mainly described in Chapter 5 (Data Product Labels). Detached labels are the recommended default.
  • Define labels using ODL and other language constructs, per Chapter 12 (Object Description Language Specification and Usage), Chapter 15 (Record Formats), Chapter 13 (PDS Objects / Groups), Chapter 7 (Date/Time Format), Chapter 14 (Pointer Usage), Chapter 17 (Usage of N/A, UNK and NULL), and Chapter 15 (Units of Measurement), which specifies SI Units, Systeme Internationale d’Unites.
  • Organize data into data sets per Chapter 6 (Data Set / Data Set Collection Contents and Naming), including adopting the standards for naming data sets and processing levels. Document the data sets using catalog files.
  • Structure data archives per Chapter 8 (Directory Types and Naming) and Appendix D (Example of Required Files)
  • Provide sufficient geometry and pointing information, per Chapter 2 (Cartographic Standards). Recommend planetocentric as default reference coordinate system.  Adopt the NAIF toolkit, per Appendix E (NAIF Toolkit Directory Structure).


B.     Create a data management archiving plan to describe the delivery process from an instrument team and a list of the science products to be delivered. See example DMAPs at


C.     Capture ancillary and other supporting documentation such as a Software Interface Specification (SIS) sufficient to understand and use the data


D.    Provide calibration data where applicable


E.     Host data in online data repositories for the purposes of data sharing, e.g.


F.     Validate metadata against a PDS-compliant data dictionary. Note: Both the PDS and PSA have various tools to support this available at:


G.     Adopt in principle the PDS3 data dictionary, specified at


H.    Adopt best practices associated with the archive life cycle, per the PDS Archive Preparation Guide.

Chapter 3 (Archive Planning and Design)

      • Define data products
      • Define data sets
      • Develop naming conventions
      • Identify data validation issues

Chapter 4 (Development and Testing)

      • Develop sample volumes
      • Peer review against sample volumes

Chapter 5 (Data Production, Distribution, and Maintenance)

I.      Assemble primary data, calibration files, catalog files, index files, documentation

J.      Publicly release data



PDS Standards,

PDS Archive Preparation Guide,

IPDA Standards,

IPDA Plan for developing core data standards,



(1): The IPDA and NASA’s Planetary Data System are in the process of developing and reviewing a new version of the PDS Standards. Though PDS 3 is the core, once these versions are approved IPDA may adopt
these standards for the compliance in future.  For more information, please see the PDS4 Data Standards page.


(2): The NASA Planetary Data System and the ESA Planetary Science Archive, while sharing the same set of standards, have slightly different implementations.

Specific standards versions will be reviewed and approved by the IPDA Steering Committee

[2] Specific data dictionary versions will be reviewed and approved by the IPDA Steering Committee