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Software Tools

The following applications are freely available for working with planetary data.


CSFD Tools

A tool to conduct crater size-frequency distribution measurements from shapefiles. The application supports 'traditional crater counting', 'buffered crater counting', 'non-sparseness correction', and 'buffered non-sparseness correction' measurements. The results can be used for further statistical analysis with Craterstats.

For additional information and support, please contact Christian Riedel.

• Download CSFD Tools (exe-file 64bit-Version • January 2019) 

The source code is available on GitHub: https://github.com/ch-riedel/CSFD_Tools

Description of the software:

Riedel, C., Michael, G. G., Kneissl, T, Orgel, C., Hiesinger, H., and van der Bogert, C. H., A New Tool to Account for Crater Obliteration Effects in Crater Size-Frequency Distribution Measurements, Earth and Space Science, 5(6), 258-267, DOI: 10.1002/2018EA000383, 2018.


CraterTools is an ArcGIS add-in for map-projection-independent crater size-frequency measurements. The software requires an ArcGIS 10.1 installation on Windows 7 or higher. The zip-file contains the CraterTools add-in as well as a software manual in pdf format.

For additional information and support, please contact Dr. Thomas Kneissl or Alicia Neesemann.

Download CraterTools (zip-file)

Join cratersoftware mailing list for occasional emails about updates to the software
Browse older versions

Description of the software:

Kneissl T., van Gasselt S., Neukum G., Map-projection-independent crater size-frequency determination in GIS environments — New software tool for ArcGIS, Planetary and Space Science, 59, 1243-1254, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.03.015, 2011.

The Buffered Crater Counting (BCC) technique available in the software is described in:

Kneissl, T., Michael, G. G., Platz, T., Walter, S. H. G., Age determination of linear surface features using the Buffered Crater Counting approach – Case studies of the Sirenum and Fortuna Fossae graben systems on Mars. Icarus, 250, 384-394, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2014.12.008, 2015.

The correction of topography-related distortions is covered in:

Kneissl, T., Schmedemann, N., Neesemann, A., Raymond, C. A., Russell, C. T., Crater Counting on Small Bodies - The Influence of Topography-Related Distortions. Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Abs., Vol. 45, #2398, 2014.

Craterstats 2.0

A revised program for plotting crater counts and determining surface ages. The software plots isochrons in cumulative, differential, R-plot and Hartmann presentations, and makes isochron fits to both cumulative and differential data. Hartmann-style piecewise production functions may also be used.

The software requires installation of the free IDL virtual machine (IDL 8.7 or newer versions), and runs on all common platforms.

 • Download Craterstats 2.0 (zip-file)

 • Join cratersoftware mailing list for occasional emails about updates to the software
 • Craterstats slides from USGS Planetary Geologic Mappers Meeting 2012
 • Browse older versions

Description of the techniques using in the software:

Neukum G., Meteorite bombardment and dating of planetary surfaces (English translation, 1984). Meteoritenbombardement und Datierung planetarer Oberflächen (German original) Habilitation Thesis for Faculty Membership, Univ. of Munich, 186pp, 1983.

The dating of resurfacing processes is covered in:

Michael G.G., Neukum G., Planetary surface dating from crater size-frequency distribution measurements: Partial resurfacing events and statistical age uncertainty, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 294 (3-4), 223-229, 2010.

The possibility of analysing a crater population for the presence of non-random sub-populations which could bias a measurement is covered in:

Michael G.G., Platz T., Kneissl T., Schmedemann N., Planetary surface dating from crater size-frequency distribution measurements: spatial randomness and clustering, Icarus, 2012.

The technique for fitting isochrons to differential data (Hartmann-style), and a correction of the Werner & Tanaka (2010) Mars epoch boundaries are described in:

Michael G.G., Planetary surface dating from crater size–frequency distribution measurements: Multiple resurfacing episodes and differential isochron fitting, Icarus, 2013.

Many application examples for diverse types of unit are given in:

Platz T., Michael G. G., Tanaka K. L., Skinner J. A., Fortezzo C. M. Crater-based dating of geological units on Mars: Methods and application for the new global geological map, Icarus, 2013.


This command-line program carries out image brightness equalisation using an external reference image. It is intended as a pre-processing step before assembling a mosaic.

The software requires installation of the free IDL virtual machine, and runs on all common platforms (if a full IDL license is available, it will run without the splash screen). A GDAL installation is also required.

Download equalise2external (zip-file)

Browse older versions

Additional information may be found in:

G.G. Michael, S.H.G. Walter, T. Kneissl, W. Zuschneid, C. Gross, P.C. McGuire, A. Dumke, B. Schreiner, S. van Gasselt, K. Gwinner, R. Jaumann. Systematic processing of Mars Express HRSC panchromatic and colour image mosaics: image equalisation using an external brightness reference. Planetary and Space Science, 2015.


A DTM colourisation tool. Permits the definition of an elevation palette, adjusting the heights where the pure colours occur and generating smooth transitions in between. Reads DTMs in PDS or VICAR format, and exports colourised .tif files. Generates annotated colour-scale bar (postscript format).

The software requires installation of the free IDL virtual machine, and runs on all common platforms.

Download Colourscale (zip-file)

Browse older versions

HRSCview local version

A version of HRSCview which allows you to view and manipulate locally stored map-projected PDS or VICAR format HRSC datasets. Includes some facilities for plotting elevation profiles, measuring areas and volumes, measuring crater diameters.

The software requires installation of the free IDL virtual machine, and runs on all common platforms.


Software to display the images, to convert to other image formats, and to process to higher data levels.


The software bzip2 is a high-quality data compressor for the level-4 data hosted at Freie Universität Berlin.

Browse and Download bzip2 (website bzip.org)

Geodynamic Modelling Code CHIC

This online toolkit calculates the main interior properties of mantle and core for rocky planets of masses between 0.8 and 2 Earth masses. The toolkit is based on a parameterization developed in our paper. To derive the parameterization, several interior structure models were calculated with the code CHIC. All visualization codes, parameterization routines and examples are available via GITLAB.

• Link to the project website of the code



Questions or feedback may be sent to:

Alicia Neesemann (CraterTools)

• Prof. Dr. Lena Noack (GeodynCHIC)

• Sebastian Walter (VICAR)

• Dr. Gregory Michael 

  (all other programs)

Additional resources about "Mars Express data"
may be found at ESA websites
First Mars Express Data Workshop:
Programme and Documentation