Graduate Computing Resources

Once you are admitted into the department, an LPL account will be created for you automatically. Please contact LPL Central Computing Systems (LCS) directly at sys [at] if you have any preference on your username once you have decided to enroll at LPL; otherwise, they will create one for you automatically. Once you have an account, the bounties of the LCS computers are available to you. You can find out more about those resources at the LPL Central Computing Systems (LCS) page, and they also have a helpful FAQ.

Graduate Student Computers

The lab provides a computer to each graduate student if the student's advisor does not. These computers are Mac Minis (depending on availability) or Solaris thin-clients that connect directly to the central LPL UNIX server and are capable of connecting to a Windows Server that can run a variety of software including:

  • MS Office 2003
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • EndNote
  • Mathematica 5.2* (see below)
  • SPSS
  • Maple
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Acrobat Professional

Computers and software needed for coursework and research are supported by either the LPL Systems staff or by technical engineers working on the specific spacecraft missions.

A large part of the software available are open source packages or locally derived tools; however, commercial packages are used as needed, such as IDL, Super Mongo, Metbase, etc.

While Unix is a heavily used tool for research, its use is not exclusive. The computer systems staff supports MS Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris and Linux variants.

High Performance Computing

The UA High Performance Computing (HPC) center is an interdisciplinary computing center focused on facilitating research that advances science and technology. This is the place to go if you really need some oomph behind your computations or just a place to temporarily store your latest catalog of data (check out all the resources here)! The center offers users (must make an account) linux-based computer banks that have almost any software you could need for research. If you need temporary data storage, your group PI can allocate up to 20 TB at HPC for up to 300 days. If you need to run computationally intensive processes, HPC computers have RAMs ranging from 192 GB per node (Ocelot) to 3 TB of RAM per node for the high-memory option of Puma. Each computing system has hundreds of nodes that are shared amongst UA scientists from several disciplines! Explore the documentation and their FAQ


The Planetary Image Research Laboratory (PIRL) supports a major subnet facility. Quotas start at 1 TB and shell access is available. Further, PIRL mail is faster and more reliable than LPL mailservers. The PIRL system is operated by Joe Plassman and is available to all Planetary Science graduate students for printing posters and work on remote sensing research projects; sign up on the New User Application Form.Contact Joe Plassmann or Linda Hickcox, Kuiper SS room 429 with questions. Further information about PIRL is available at the PIRL website.

University of Arizona

The University itself operates a large set of systems and provides a number of computing services. To learn more about them, check out the University's Computing Services page.

If you're unfamiliar with UNIX, the best thing to do is to ask another student to help you get started. Manuals for various programs are located in the LPL Graduate Student Library (in the printer room). There are also some books up in the LPL library (room 409) that you might find useful. Your best references for navigating the system, however, will probably be the other students who have already tried to figure out the same problems. Don't be afraid to ask!!

IDL License

You'll need IDL in order to run SpexTool for IRTF data as well as many other software. The LPL IT team now has instructions on how to install IDL and point the license to the LPL server on their FAQ page.

Mathematica (or lack thereof)

The Lab does not own a network license for Mathematica, so if Mathematica is your tool of choice, you'll have to do a little bit of extra work to get it. You have two options: 1) use the university's license through the HPC system or 2) ask your advisor to purchase a student version for your personal use.

If you can't convince your advisor, and don't want to purchase it yourself, Mathematica (currently version 7.0) is available most reliably through the university's High Performance Computing system. To access the HPC system computers, you will need to request an account (go to the UITS HPC Services page and follow the appropriate link). You will need to provide your advisor's email address so you can be "approved" before they will give you the account. Once you are approved, open up X11 or a terminal and ssh into the ice.hpc system, using the -Y option to allow you to use the GUI. The command is:

ssh -Y (your netid here) (Note: "ice" might actually be out of date now...)

Then you'll need to load the mathematica module (command: module load mathematica), and give it the directory for the fonts it needs (command: xset fp+ tcp/, and start mathematica by typing "mathematica" in the command line. The connection will likely be slow, especially if you are ssh-ing from a remote location or a slow computer. Be patient... or choose another option for obtaining Mathematica.


There are printers in the printer/copy room on Admin Hallway. On each printer (B&W and color) are IP addresses. Note the make and model of each printer, and set them up as IP printers on your computer/laptop for use whenever you're in the building. Printers work on the secured UA wifi network, and may work on eduroam. Contact sys for help. HP makes a mobile app you can install on your phone for unreliable, slow printing from your mobile device.


eduroam is a wifi network that you'll encounter at other universities (the University of California) and institutions. It means free wifi at most academic institutions. Connect to eduroam at the U of A with the UITS eduroam instructions so that you have wifi when you visit other universities. The email you need to use for logging in is your U of A NetID, [username], NOT your LPL email address.


LPL calendar(works in Outlook or Google Calendar); more calendar information on the Useful Things page. Email Sondy (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmZiYXFsQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+ZmJhcWxAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==) if you'd like to have edit permissions.