Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site

LAPIS - Laboratory for Analysis of Planetary and Interplanetary Data Sets

Our group is involved in past, current and future remote-sensing instruments onboard several spacecraft missions exploring Mars (IMPHiRISE, CRISM, CaSSIS), Titan (DISR), comets (HMC, OSIRIS), Mercury (BELA), Europa and Ganymede (GALA). We analyse data and select targets for future observations. Using multiple datasets, we study the influence of water, ice and desiccation on Mars, the dynamic surfaces of comets and we are preparing to analyse altimeter data of Mercury surface.

Analysis of the surface of Mars

As Co-Investigators on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) – the high resolution imaging system on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched in 2005, we investigate geyser activity, flow structures in Hellas and Argyre bassins and desiccation processes on the Martian surface. We have developed a laboratory expertise in analysing multiple datasets, synergizing topography, visible imaging and composition of peculiar surface targets. Building on this expertise, we have proposed and are building the Colour and Stereo Scientific Imaging System (CaSSIS) for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter to be launched in 2016 by ESA.

Our scientific goals are focused on fluids and ices on Mars, and on both Mars natural satellites:

Nicolas Thomas was also involved in the analysis of images taken from the surface of Mars by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP).


  • 3D views of banded structures in Hellas basin, on Mars



  • OSIRIS image of asteroid Lutetia during the flyby by the european space probe Rosetta.


Analysis of cometary surfaces and boundary layers

As part of the OSIRIS science team onboard the Rosetta spacecraft, we are intending to focus scientifically on the dusty-gas outflow within the first few hundred of meters from the cometary nucleus and its relationship to its surface topography and temperature structure. We have already successfully participated in the observations of Tempel 1 in 2005, Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010. We are now preparing to analyse data from comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko to be acquired in 2014-2015 by the OSIRIS imaging system. Our preparatory modelling work is already generating publications.

The pages below give an idea of interests here.


Analysis of Mercury surface and future missions to the Jupiter system

In the future, the LAPIS will also focus on the analysis of the data returned by the laser altimeter we are building for the BepiColombo ESA mission to Mercury (BELA), as well as the laser altimeter for JUICE (GALA) to the Jupiter system. Preparing for the analysis of BELA data, we are currently investigating the roughness of Mercury using the latest data from the MLA laser altimeter onboard the Messenger NASA mission.



  • Topography map of Mercury northern hemisphere


Future developments

In order to maximize the science return from the numerous remote-sensing projects we are involved in, we aim to set up a laboratory for the exploitation of large data sets from interplanetary missions, namely OSIRIS, BELA and CaSSIS data, as well as future missions to Jupiter system (JUICE and IVO). This facility will provide storage, calibration and analysis tools like computer-aided modeling to permit the best exploitation of these data.

People working in LAPIS

Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site