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NAIF

About NAIF

NASA's Navigation 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
  • Independently conceive new capabilities that seem appropriate for NAIF support
  • Implement 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

In addition, as the "ancillary data node" of NASA's Planetary Data 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 rather modest 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 limited 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.

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