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The MPC Users' Group (MUG) invites community feedback on any issues, concerns, or questions about the MPC.


Please provide feedback on the SBN website.

PDS Support

About the Small Bodies Node

The Small Bodies Node (SBN) of the Planetary Data System is a distributed node with expertise on comets, asteroids and interplanetary dust. The node data collection and verification activities are spread among several institutions specializing in particular bodies (comets, asteroids, or dust), while the main archives and user services are collected in a single place.

SMUG -- SMall bodies User Group (formerly SBN Advisory Council)

Dr. David Blewett Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) 2022 -- present
Dr. Daniel Britt University of Central Florida 2003 -- present
Dr. Schelte "Bobby" Bus University of Hawaii 2008 -- present
Dr. Anita L. Cochran University of Texas xxxx -- present
Dr. David Dunham KinetX Aerospace 2022 -- present
Dr. Yan Fernández University of Central Florida 2008 -- present
Dr. Will Grundy Lowell Observatory 2014 -- present
Dr. Sascha Kempf Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Univ. of Colorado 2017 -- present
Dr. Joe Masiero The Infrared Processing and Analysis Facility (IPAC/Caltech) 2022 -- present
Dr. Carrie Nugent Olin College of Engineering 2022 -- present
Dr. Silvia Protopapa Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) 2022 -- present
Dr. William Reach The Infrared Processing and Analysis Facility (IPAC/Caltech) 2003 -- present
Dr. Rob Seaman University of Arizona 2022 -- present

Our Subnodes


Comet Subnode

The Comet Subnode is located at the University of Maryland, in College Park, Maryland. In addition to maintaining the combined archives of the SBN and supporting the SBN web site, the Comet subnode collects, formats, verifies and consults on datasets concerned with comet observations as well as providing support for active comet missions and observing campaigns.

Science Support:
Dr. G. Bauer (PI), Dr. L. Kolokolova (point of contact), Dr. T. Farnham, Dr. L. Feaga, Dr. A. Gicquel, Dr. M. Kelley
Programming/Hardware Support:
Dr. D. Darg, P. Lawton, A. Raugh, Dr. D. Wellnitz, A. Mamoutkine, J. Dailey
Archive Support:
T. Barnes, B. Hirsch
Web Support:
E. Warner
Image Credit: Comet C/Hyakutake, scanned image taken on 24 March 1996 by Dave Kenyon.



Asteroid/Dust Subnode

The Asteroid/Dust Subnode is located at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. The Asteroid subnode collects, formats, verifies and reviews ground based and mission data pertaining to asteroids, transneptunians, small planetary satellites and interplanetary dust.

Science Support:
Dr. E. Palmer, Dr. D. Davis, Dr. B. Mueller, Dr. M. Sykes
Programming and Archive Support:
M. Drum, C. Kingston, J. Stone
Archive Support:
Dr. C. Neese, K. Lopez
Image Credit: Asteroid (243) Ida, Galileo Solid State Imager (SSI) image.
Thermal infrared image of the ecliptic plane, showing an asteroid dust band. Image produced by Mark Sykes, University of Arizona, using data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS).

Innermost Solar System Plot

Minor Planet Center (MPC)

The Minor Planet Center is the international clearing house for positional observations of minor planets (asteroids and comets) designated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is managed by NASA Planetary Data System's Small Bodies Node as a functional sub-node.

Dr. Matthew Payne
Technical Manager:
C. Moriarty
Dr. P. Veres, Dr. M. Pan, Dr. R. Pike, Dr. F. Spoto
IT Specialists:
M. Rudenko, Dr. D. Bell
Web Developer:
P. Prema
MPC Fellow:
Dr. D. Hernandez, Dr. M. Alexandersen

Node Activities

Activities at PDS data nodes like the SBN include:


The Planetary Data System is an archive for planetary datasets past, present and future. It is the goal of the PDS to archive data files with sufficient documentation and ancillary information (flat fields, instrument parameters, ephemeris tables, etc.) that the data will be useful, meaningful and accessible to astronomers in future generations.

Both ground-based and space-based observations are included in the PDS archives, data nodes applying their in-house expertise to each case as needed. Each subnode is staffed by researchers who work with the data and are available for consultation.

Peer Review

An important part of the archiving process is a critical peer review of the candidate datasets. After the data node has formatted the files and gathered all the associated documentation and support files, external reviewers with the appropriate scientific expertise are asked to carefully review the set for completeness and usefulness. The comments and criticisms of the reviewers are noted, and if serious problems or deficiencies are found in the data, the files are not accepted into the archives unless and until the problems are corrected.

You may occasionally come across datasets in these pages that are marked as "Under Review". These are the files which are currently undergoing the review and correction process. Unless otherwise stated, all datasets available through the SBN have passed review.