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"No one knows precisely what the composition of the center of the Earth is. This is one of the best kept secrets of our planet as mankind has never reached deeper than 12 km below its surface." writes Tristan Vey in Le Figaro. In fact only laboratory experiments, seismological analysis and thermodynamic models can help us get a better understanding of this mysterious inner core. These show the existence of a liquid metallic outer core with a diameter of about 5000 km that contains a “small” and spinning solid inner core about 2400 km wide. While this solid part is almost exclusively composed of iron-nickel alloy (with a 16/1 ratio), seismological surveys have shown that the surrounding environment of liquified metal contains significant quantities of lighter elements such as sulphur, carbon, silicon as well as oxygen. But in what proportion? More...
Published: Sep 24, 2015 3:26:00 PM
UCL Regional Planetary Image Facility
The Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF) at UCL is a NASA facility that provides two fundamental roles:
- The RPIF houses rare and unique hard-copy and digital planetary data from missions spanning four decades of space exploration, which forms part of the Geology Collection, itself part of UCL Museums and Collections.
- The RPIF 3D facility provides hardware and software necessary for accessing, processing and analysing planetary data for internal and external users.
The UCL-NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility outreach and 3D research areas.
The 7m long Mars wall in the UCL RPIF, showing a 360 degree view taken by the Spirit rover.
The UCL RPIF is based in the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck.
The UK NASA RPIF is held by UCL, one of only seven outside the USA. Our task is to provide information and data not only to professional researchers in the UK, but also the general public, students, media, school-children and their teachers about planetary missions and their latest findings.
The UCL RPIF is linked with the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck, a cross-disciplinary research group made up from three different departments and over 50 members of academic and research staff.
To visit the RPIF collection or if you’re interested in using the RPIF 3D facility, please contact us.
Our archive includes images and other data from almost all of the NASA planetary missions since the 1960's, covering all the planetary bodies in the solar system which have been surveyed to date by spacecraft.
The data are in the form of photographic prints, negatives, slides, maps, mission information, planetary publications, and CD-ROMS. Much of the data and many of the publications are rare and cannot be found anywhere else. We are unable to provide or sell hard copies of our data, and operate as a browse only facility. Assistance with finding data in the facility can be given by RPIF members, who also frequently give school talks and provide general information on NASA planetary missions.
In 2009 the RPIF extended its role to include the processing of planetary data for scientific use, particularly the production of stereo digital terrain models. We now provide the hardware and software necessary to process and produce high-resolution digital terrain models from different planetary bodies, using stereo images.
The RPIF 3D Facility uses BAE Systems SocetSet software, and a method developed by the USGS Atrogeology Science Center to produce stereo DTMs.
This facility is free to use, and after attending one of our training workshops both internal and external users are welcome to come and produce their own stereo DTMs.