and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) was established at the
Jet Propulsion Laboratory to lead the design and implementation
of the "SPICE" ancillary
information system. SPICE is used throughout the life cycle of NASA planetary
science missions to help scientists and engineers design missions,
plan scientific observations, analyze science data and conduct various
engineering functions associated with flight projects.
Don't be mislead
by the word "Facility": the NAIF name really refers
to the group of people responsible for leading the development and
deployment of SPICE system capabilities.
Also don't be mislead by the occurrence of "navigation" in the name: SPICE does
not provide any spacecraft orbit determination, trajectory propagation or attitude estimation capabilities.
The NAIF Team
is a small group (4 persons) dedicated to the issues of producing high precision,
clearly documented and readily used "ancillary information"
required by space scientists and engineers. The principal jobs of
the NAIF team are these.
- Solicit new
SPICE requirements from the professional user community
conceive new capabilities that seem appropriate for NAIF support
new SPICE components—data files, data access software, and application programs
- When specifically funded to do so, organize and lead SPICE file production and archive production,
or assist others in these processes
- Develop tutorials and SPICE-based programming lessons as training aides
- Provide more-or-less annual training classes for SPICE users
as the "ancillary data node" of NASA's
System (PDS), the NAIF Team leads the peer review of,
and archives, the SPICE ancillary data products produced
by NASA planetary flight projects. The NAIF node provides
mechanisms for public access to these archived products, and—as our
resources permit—offers expert consultation on use of SPICE
products by the professional planetary science research community.
There have been a few cases where NASA provided funding to NAIF to directly support a foreign flight project. Perhaps similar arrangements will be possible in the future, but this is entirely up to NASA management.
See the Support page for full details about the kind of
support available from NAIF.