CraterTools 2.1.x and ArcMap 10.x

  • What is it: CraterTools is a set of tools to measure crater size-frequency distributions (CSFDs) on map-projected image data (for ArcMap 10.x). For planetary ArcMap users, CraterTools is generally the add-in of choice for collecting craters and exporting for plotting in CraterStats2.
  • Who wrote it: Dr. Thomas Kneissl, Freie Universität Berlin (now maintained by Alicia Neesemann)
  • Where to get it:

Clarification: So there seems to be some confusion for this tool and its compatibility with more recent versions of ArcMap 10.x (specifically anything over 10.4). The current version of CraterTools (2.1.5674.29490) seems to have been originally written for ArcMap 10.1 - 10.3 based on the release date of 2015 (and the fact it is reported to work in 10.1).

As far as I can tell, without tons of testing, CraterTools 2.1.x still works with all version of ArcMap 10.x (including a recent test in ArcMap 10.7.1 released in 2019). Just don’t expect it to ever work in ArcGIS Pro!

Why the confusion: I think the original version of CraterTools (probably version 1.x), was written in Visual Studio for Applications (VBA). VBA has been discontinued for ArcMap since 10.3. We have had lots of warning, but it doesn’t mean tools will always get upgraded to .Net or Python. And while I can sometimes get older VBA tools to work (even in ArcMap 10.7.1), I haven’t figured out why it doesn’t work on other machines. To even test VBA, one still needs to install the VBA compatibility installer from ArcMap 10.3 (and request a free license from Esri). Perhaps I need to install Visual Studio Express or there might be some ActiveX security lock on some machines (I have no idea). If someone has figured this out, I would love to hear about it. Several tools we, Astro, still support may no longer function without us upgrading them. We moved to .NET or Python a long time ago, but not all tools were upgraded.

Recommendation: If you have ever installed the original (v1.x) of CraterTools (using the distributed *.dll), make sure to uninstall it (or hunt it down and delete it). Next download version 2.1.x (from above) and install the “esriaddin” (just double click it, no need to be Admin). This seems to have been re-written in .NET so it should not have any VBA issues. Upon restarting ArcMap, CraterTools should be available as a toolbar. To make sure which version you have see the “about” page from the CraterTools toolbar. This latest version also has crater curve plotting capabilities. This is a great feature to visualize your data before exporting to CraterStats2. But no matter, make sure to save often and back-up you work when using CraterTools (or any add-in for that matter).

Kneissl et al. (2011) Map-projection-independent crater size-frequency determination in GIS environments - New software tool for ArcGIS, Planet. Space Sci., 59, 1243-1254, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.03.015…



  • Just use ArcMap’s circle too. Of course a 3 point crater tool is easier (IMHO).
  • Try Astro’s Crater Helper Tools. This tool was written to help collection craters, but more for crater tagging (morphology types), and not really for crater counting. But it does have a 3 point and 6 point ellipse create tool. To get the data into CraterStats2 will take a little table manipulation on export, but it is not horrible.
  • JMARS has some crater tools (I think a new 3 point tool also).
  • And there are other crater tools for GIS applications like QGIS 2.x. Now I believe this might not work in QGIS 3.x, but fortunately, I know folks are working on it.
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