Planetary Geologic Mapping – ASU (SESE)


Arizona State University


Nickel Class (2020 – 2021)


Emma Campbell, Astrobiology
William Cortez, Astrobiology
Daniel Diab, Astrophysics
Timothy Head, Astrophysics
Alexis Lohman, Astrophysics
Bree Robitaille, Astrophysics
Ian Thorpe, Exploration Systems Design
David Troletti, Astrophysics


David Nelson, Data Manager and Geospatial Data Analyst, Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Matthew Toro, Director of Maps, Imagery, and Geospatial Services, ASU Map and Geospatial Hub
Dr. David Williams, Research Professor, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration, Psyche Mission Co-Investigator


Dr. Chris Groppi, Associate Professor, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration


In preparation for arrival at Psyche, scientists on the mission are thinking about geologic mapping of the asteroid’s surface. This capstone project aims to contribute to that preparation. Working closely with Psyche mission team members, the team learned the basics of how planetary scientists create geologic maps of objects in the solar system never visited by humans and learned to use ArcGIS software (a skill that is sought after by employers like the U.S. Geological Survey, environmental companies, and city urban planning departments). They created a hypothetical geologic map of the Psyche asteroid based on a scientifically-informed artist’s rendering of the asteroid’s surface and developed a rubric to identify feasible and scientifically interesting “landing” sites for potential future landed missions. Their map will help inform discussions among Psyche team members as they prepare for working with real Psyche surface data in the late 2020s and will also serve as an exciting way to educate the public about the value of geologic maps and how we come to understand the histories of planetary bodies we will never get to see in person.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Arizona State University Capstone Courses “SES 410-411”. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission ( “Psyche: A Journey to a Metal World” [Contract number NNM16AA09C] is part of the NASA Discovery Program mission to solar system targets. Trade names and trademarks of ASU and NASA are used in this work for identification only. Their usage does not constitute an official endorsement, either expressed or implied, by Arizona State University or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of ASU or NASA.