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Proposal for the Creation of an Inter-Commission Committee on Planetary Geodesy (ICCPG)

posted by
Sz. Rózsa
Planning Group

From the IAG EC:
    Michael Sideris

    George Balmino
    Veronique Dehant
    Jean-Pierre Barriot
    Chris Rizos
    Philippa Berry
    Dave Smith
    Maria Zuber


Geodesy of the planets of the solar system and their satellites is a domain of potential IAG expansion in view of the planetary missions, such as the present missions to Mars, the Moon and the giant planets, and the future missions to Mars, the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Titan, Saturn, the Gelilean satellites, etc. A lot of data are already available, and provide the scientific community with a high potential for understanding these planets or satellites, and their evolutions. It is recognized in the scientific community that there is a need to understand the internal structure and crustal evolution of these planets and satellites, their rotation and their variations (length-of-day, polar motion, precession-nutation or libration), their surface shape and their gravity field, and to establish reference frames for them. The interpretation of the data in terms of their deep interior or shallow interior and their surface evolution has leaded to unprecedented results. For some of them, such as Mars or Europa, these are great importance for studying the climate, the existence of water, and the possibility of life and its evolution. The comparison between all these planets, including the Earth, has additionally brought a lot of very interesting and promising information. The progress in mission design and in analyzing and interpreting the collected data has made the role of planetary geodesy, and the need for its further development, much more prominent.

These opportunities must be recognized by the IAG. This is particularly true because the planetary geodesy community has no home within the IUGG. Providing a home for them within IAG will not only attract these scientists to IAG but it will also increase for visibility, and respect for, our Association.

Recognizing these potential benefits, it is proposed that the IAG EC approve the creation of an ICC on Planetary Geodesy within the IAG. The following preliminary terms of reference describe the tasks and responsibilities of the proposed ICCPG.

Preliminary Terms of Reference

The ICC on Planetary Geodesy will:

  1. support the geodesy of the planets of the solar system and their satellites;

  2. encourage and coordinate research in that domain, in particular the establishment of reference frames to support mapping, navigation and scientific concerned with the gravity field, rotation and dynamics of these bodies;

  3. help the IAG in articulating the challenges in planetary geodesy in view of the missions prepared by the space agencies;

  4. guide the planetary geodesy community in the planning and realization of proposed planetary geodesy mission(s);
    provide the planetary geodesy with a framework where standards, conventions, and resolutions can be developed in the associated sciences;

  5. attract the planetary geodesy community within the IAG for a synergy between planetary geodesy and the other components of IAG; and

  6. serve as an interface with scientists in other areas of planetary or Earth science, and provide a link to sister organizations such as the IAU, IAF (International Astronautical Federation), Space Agencies, and others.

ICCPG Steering Committee

President – Dave Smith (GSFC, USA) has agreed to serve initially as President


One representative from each of the four IAG Commissions

Potential members

Dave Smith (USA GSFC), Bruce Bills (GSFC, USA), Frank Lemoine (USA, GSFC) Greg Neumann (GSFC, USA), Maria Zuber (USA, MIT), Roger Philips (Washington Univ., USA), Chuck Yoder (USA, JPL), Alex Konopliv (USA, JPL), Bill Folkner (USA, JPL), Philippa Berry (UK), Martin Paetzold (D), Andrea Millani (I), Jean-Pierre Barriot (F), Georges Balmino (F), Jean-Charles Marty (F), Pascale Defraigne (B), Tim Van Hoolst (B), Rene Warnant (B), Olivier de Viron (B), Pascal Rosenblatt (B), Olivier Verhoeven (B), Mikael Beuthe (B), Ozgur Karatekin (B, Turkey), Kyle O’Keefe (C)

Next Steps

  • Obtain approval from the IAG Council and EC to proceed

  • Appoint a President and set up the Steering Committee

  • Finalized the terms of reference

  • Formalize the ICC sub-structure

  • Obtain final approval from the IAG EC

  • Establish links with other relevant bodies (within and outside IAG)

  • Organize workshops and sessions at conferences

Sapporo, July 5, 2003