NAIF offers a SPICE-enhanced version of the open source
visualization tool named Cosmographia. This is an interactive tool used to
produce 3D visualizations of planet ephemerides, sizes and shapes; spacecraft
trajectories and orientations; and instrument fields-of-view and footprints.
Cosmographia has many user controls, allowing one to manage what is displayed,
what vantage point is used, and how fast the animation progresses. One can add
dynamic event annotations to the screen, such as indicators for when an instrument
is acquiring data.
(Click on any image to see an enlargement. Click on your browser's back arrow to return to this page.)
Cosmographia originated as primarily a general interest solar system
simulator, and it still works wonderfully in that role. However, with consent and assistance
from the tool's author, NAIF is extending the Cosmographia tool to
make use of SPICE kernels to accurately model the observation geometry of
planetary missions for which substantial or complete sets of SPICE data are
available. With these extensions SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia should be of
interest to scientists and engineers.
Cosmographia is a stand-alone application for which executable binaries have
been prepared on relatively recent versions of OSX, Windows and Linux. They
likely work on more modern versions of the named operating systems and perhaps
on some older versions as well.
Using SPICE data with Cosmographia requires the appropriate SPICE kernels
Object Notation (JSON) to define which SPICE files to use and how to use them.
NAIF prepared a User's Guide for constructing these catalog files, and also
provides some templates to use as starting points. Creating or modifying catalog
files must be done by the customer—NAIF hasn't the resources needed to do this
for Cosmographia users.
The Cosmographia installers include SPICE style ephemeris files (SPKs) for
all the planets and "major" satellites, plus two asteroids, covering the period
from 1950 to 2050. Users can supplement or replace these ephemeris files with
ones obtained from the NAIF
The SPICE-enhanced version of Cosmographia is free to all persons, including
commercial entities, subject to the license and disclaimer provisions linked
at the bottom of this page. There are no ITAR restrictions on this tool.
Important details about using this
SPICE-enhanced version of Cosmographia with SPICE data should be read by any
Components of SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia available for download provides access to the
Cosmographia installers. Also available are the Cosmographia-SPICE Users Guide
describing how to prepare JSON files needed to supply SPICE data to
Cosmographia, some JSON templates, and some working examples of JSON files
(these could also be used as templates). These items can be downloaded
separately or as part of the installer.
SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia is one of a number of visualization tools developed within the
planetary science community, some of which use SPICE to some degree, and some of
which are available to interested parties. Information
about some visualization tools may be found on the fourth page of this PDF.
NAIF has elected to offer SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia for a number of reasons, including its
full use of SPICE kernel types, our ability to add capabilities, and
arrangements made with its author to allow us to freely distribute it. Those
interested in solar system mission observation geometry visualization
capabilities should thoughtfully make their own determinations about which visualization
tool(s) to use.
NAIF provides below several very brief movie clips illustrating a bit of
Cosmographia's features. After playing a movie click on your browser's back
arrow to return to this page.
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