Oct 19, 2021
Part of a series on Tool Help
Explore the Data Ferret here
Burrowing through the archive, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Searching for data within the PDS archives can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Especially when you are searching for data that is specific to characteristics such as object taxonomy, size, or family. What if you want to search for all the data on a given object across decades of observations? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a tool that could compile all those results into one easy to read page? This is why we created the Small Bodies Node Data Ferret tool.
What is the Small Bodies Data Ferret?
The Data Ferret is a search tool that was created to allow for searches within all the SBN data sets without having to download them first. The Data Ferret allows for many different types of searches so you can find exactly the type of data you are looking for. Users can search by target name, taxonomy, physical properties and more.
What makes it so special?
The real power of the Data Ferret is that it combines certain attributes from across SBN datasets to give you your search results. To give an example of this power, imagine wanting to find the albedos of lots of different asteroids. One mission could have measured a bunch of asteroids, and another could have done the same for a bunch of others. Normally you’d have to just download both and figure out which column in their tables was albedo. In the Data Ferret we extract that albedo column information across all mission datasets for you.
Yet the Data Ferret doesn’t just stop there. We’ve created preview images and plots to let you see the data quickly and easily. This includes data such as time series (light curves) and spectral tables. Finally, once you’ve found all the data you have been searching for, the Data Ferret makes downloading the results list as quick as clicking a button.
How do I use it?
Using the Data Ferret is easy. Once you know what data you are searching for you can select which type of data search is best for you. You can search by target name, or choose the search by “Taxonomy, Family, or Physical Properties” option. Additionally there is an option for advanced searches on all data attributes if the two options listed above are not specific enough.
Target Based Search
Pick your favorite asteroid or comet! Type in its name or number, and vola, there it is.
The results of a target name based search will be compiled into one page. In addition to those results it provides links and information on the data sets from which the results have come. The image below shows the search results for the asteroid Bennu. We can see some of the range of the types of data the Data Ferret compiles from discovery information to lightcurve data.
Select either Taxonomy, Dynamic Family or Physical Attributes.
In a property search all the objects that fit within the search parameters will be listed on a results page that contains more information about each object. This result list can easily be downloaded as a CSV table using the “Download Results” button on the top right corner of the results list. Additionally, links to more detailed information about each object are available by simply clicking the name of the object on the left most column of the table. If you wanted to search for any asteroid with a diameter between 100 to 1000 kilometers your search results would appear like this:
The advanced search has many different search parameters. To select a search parameter click “Add to Form”. You can search by one property or multiple. The area is in development to expand sophistication of selecting multiple parameters, so look for more features in the future.
In the example below I have chosen to search for all asteroids with a density between 5.0 and 10.0 grams per cubic centimeter. Much like in the property search, a list is compiled with additional information about all the objects that meet my search parameters.
Let the Ferret help your future searches
The Data Ferret was built to save users from trudging through multiple data sets to find what you are looking for. Its searches allow for painless pathways to small bodies data. If you haven’t used the Data Ferret before we hope this introduction will lead you to try it out during your data searches. For those who have used it before we welcome feedback on what works well with the tool and ways we can improve it. Happy Searching!