Regional Planetary Image Facility Network
The Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF) Network was an international network of planetary image and data centers hosted by different institutions. The network was established in 1977 and partly managed by NASA until 2020. These facilities maintained libraries and collections of NASA planetary mission books, photographs, maps, and other mission documents for the public. The facilities originally focused on providing access to hardcopy documents and photographs for users in a library setting. Over the decades, the facilities grew in capability to serve digital formats while continuing to provide access to NASA's planetary data and providing expert assistance and training for users.
The charter of the RPIF Network included providing access to visiting scientists and the public, helping users to understand facility holdings, assisting with data acquisitions from the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) and NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) archives, as well as communicating with and training the community in relevant topics. The facilities were geographically widely distributed to increase their accessibility and were located at institutions with long-term core groups of planetary scientists who use the collections.
Today several US nodes of the former RPIF Network continue to function as NASA planetary data centers at their home institutions, and continue the original charter from NASA to facilitate access to planetary mission data while also expanding their collections of planetary data and documents. Each facility's holdings contain images and maps of planets and their satellites taken by solar system exploration spacecraft. Many of the facilities have unique holdings, rescued data and documents from local research programs, and a specialized focus area. In 2021, several US nodes of the former RPIF Network informally became an important element of NASA's Planetary Data Ecosystem, with facilities filling a need for physical and online access to planetary data and supporting documentation, as well providing expert assistance and training in planetary data and its use. Data centers at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, Cornell University, and the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center (Flagstaff, AZ) began conducting public Planetary Data Workshops beginning in 2023.