SPICE Domestic Training Class for 2017
November 7 - 9, 2017
Monrovia CA
Last Updated September 20, 2017

NASA's Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) at the Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announces a "SPICE" Training class will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Monrovia, CA, near Pasadena, on November 7 - 9, 2017.

SPICE is an ancillary information system providing scientists and engineers access to spacecraft orbit, attitude and similar information needed to determine observation geometry used in planning and analyzing space science observations. SPICE is frequently used for mission engineering functions as well. Check http://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/ for further information about SPICE. The SPICE system was conceived for and remains primarily focused on solar system exploration (planetary) missions, but has also proven useful for a variety of other purposes.

The class will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude around 5:00 p.m. each day. On the third day the key items will have been covered by mid-afternoon. See the preliminary agenda (PDF) for details about the class syllabus and schedule. (Subject to some change.)

This class will be very similar to previous SPICE classes. It should be considered a "beginner's" class. If you have taken a previous class, this one may not be very interesting unless you need a refresher on some of the basics of SPICE. One new element will be an increased emphasis on the Digital Shape Kernel (DSK) subsystem, now that it has become an official part of the Toolkit.

The class is intended for those who will write software that will make use of SPICE data. People not intending to do programming using SPICE software may not find this class useful.

The class is not well suited for those whose principal job is producing SPICE kernels unless the student is rather new to SPICE—the focus is mostly on using (consuming) kernels to determine various kinds of mission geometry.

The class will interleave presentations of SPICE tutorials by the NAIF staff and "open-book" programming lessons undertaken by the students using their own laptop computers. The programming lessons are broken into chunks of increasing complexity, and come complete with needed data, tips, references, correct answers, and NAIF's own code solutions. The NAIF staff will answer questions and offer assistance as students work through these programming exercises.

Some familiarity with writing programs in one of the offered languages—Fortran 77, C, IDL, MATLAB—and in building and running executables on the laptop brought by the student, is needed to make this class useful. It would also be helpful, but not mandatory, if the student has some prior experience in dealing with "space mission geometry."

We may be able to offer some of the programming lessons in Python... TBD at the last minute. In any case, none of the tutorial-based lectures will speak to Python where language-specific topics are mentioned.

It is sometimes helpful if two or three student colleagues share a computer and work each programming lesson together—it's your choice.

Each student or student group must bring a laptop computer having an operating system supported by NAIF. Check http://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/pub/ naif/toolkit for the NAIF-supported environments and to download the SPICE Toolkit for any of them. Students must use the specified version of the SPICE Toolkit, which is N0066, released in April 2017. Before coming to the class students will be responsible for having installed the Toolkit, an appropriate compiler or IDL or MATLAB package (and license), and a program development environment or text editor suitable for writing code in the user's selected programming language.

For IDL and MATLAB users: a WiFi Internet connection will be available in the classroom. Whether or not it will work with your institutional IDL or MATLAB license server—presumably through a VPN connection—cannot be determined by NAIF. It might be best for you to arrange for a temporary loaner license for your laptop to avoid this potential problem. NAIF anticipates being able to arrange for some temporary IDL and MATLAB licenses for those who request such, although we cannot yet promise this for sure. Watch for further announcements.

Before coming to the class each student or student group must download the programming lessons and the SPICE kernel files to be used in the lessons. Students should have also tested their computer and compiler, or IDL or MATLAB installation, with the SPICE Toolkit to ensure these work together properly. See if you can write, build and execute a small SPICE-based program.

Students wishing to have the tutorials available on their own laptop should also download these before coming to the class. (The size of the tutorial set is quite large, in excess of 700 pages; we suggest you not print these.)

Later on NAIF will announce to those who have registered for this class when the programming lessons, kernel files, and tutorials are available for downloading. Don't download those currently available on the NAIF website as some updates are being made.

There is no fee for this class, but attendees will be responsible for their own travel, lodging, per diem and related expenses. The class is open to all domestic and foreign persons who are now participating—or may participate in the future—in any space exploration endeavor where SPICE capabilities could be useful, including education, public outreach and commercial ventures. There are no U.S. export or other attendance restrictions. Important rules regarding use of SPICE are published under the "Rules" section of the NAIF webpages. Potential attendees should read and understand these rules before registering for the class.

While this class is open to all, the NAIF group is generally not able to provide follow-up support or consultation except to those projects, groups and individual scientists and engineers covered by funding agreements. A table listing those currently eligible for various levels of support from NAIF may be accessed from the SUPPORT web page at the NAIF website: http://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/naif/SPICE_Users.pdf.


Registration is required in order to ensure availability of a seat. Registrations will be accepted according to the order in which they are received. NASA, JPL and NAIF reserve the right to cancel the class at any time, for any reason, including lack of a sufficient number of registrations. Also reserved is the right to cut off registrations if needed to keep the class to a manageable size, about 60.

Please indicate your interest in this class by filling out and returning the form at the end of this announcement. (Cut and paste the form into an email.) Further announcements will be sent only to those who have registered or indicated an interest in the class. Please use a separate form for each applicant.

Questions about the class or about registation should be directed to Charles Acton (charles.acton@jpl.nasa.gov).

Airport Information

Three airports serve the Los Angeles area: Los Angeles International, Bob Hope (in Burbank), and Ontario.

Hotel Information

The Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Pasadena/Monrovia (strange long name) is located at 700 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA. +1 (626) 357-5211 or +1 (844) 237-9569


Out of town students must make their own hotel reservations. The Courtyard hotel offers single rooms at the reduced rate of $158/night, plus applicable taxes. Use this website to obtain this reduced rate:

Of course you are free to stay at a lodging of your choosing. Some websites may offer discounted rates as compared to what the hotels offer.

There are a few hotels within walking distance of the Courtyard by Marriott: check Google Maps for further information. All of these hotels, including the Courtyard, have ample free parking.

There are a number of restaurants in the same area.

Please forward this announcement to any of your colleagues who might be interested in this class.

Should you have questions contact Charles Acton: charles.acton@jpl.nasa.gov.

Please cut and paste into an email just the portion below beginning with your name. Mail it back after having filled in the appropriate fields and placing "X"s in the boxes [ ] that apply.

SPICE 2017 Training Class Registration or Statement of Interest
Nov. 7 - 9, 2017
Return this form to
(Please use a separate form for each person)




Flight project affiliation(s) (if any):  

Instrument affiliation(s) (if any):  

[ ]   I will definitely attend the SPICE Class on Nov 7 - 9. I understand acceptance is limited to space available. I understand the class could be cancelled if there are not sufficient registrations, or for any other reason. I understand acceptance is limited to space available.

Please fill in as much of the following as you can now. If you don't yet know answers to some questions, we'll ask you for them later.

 - The programming language I plan to use is:  [ ] Matlab   [ ] IDL   [ ] C   [ ] Fortran 77

 - The name and version of the computer operating system I'll use is:  _________ .

 - The name and version of the C or Fortran compiler I'll use (if applicable) is:  __________ .

 - The version of Matlab I'll be using (if applicable) is:  ________ and I will have tested it to ensure it works with the "Mice" Toolkit.

 - [ ] I would like to have a loaner Matlab license, if they become available through NAIF.

 - The version of IDL I'll be using (if applicable) is:  ________ and I will have tested it to ensure it works with the "Icy" Toolkit.

 - [ ] I would like to have a loaner IDL license, if they become available through NAIF.

 If I plan to use the IDL or MATLAB interface to SPICE I realize my laptop must have its own licensed copy of IDL or MATLAB installed, or that I'm responsible for ensuring I can connect to my home institution's license server through the hotel's WiFi connection.

 - [ ] I am willing to have my email address shared with the other students who attend this class.

Optional comments:

Further announcements will be sent only to those who have registered or otherwise indicated an interest in the class by returning this form.