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An Observation Geometry System
for Space Science Missions

Click here to see announcements regarding SPICE data, software, tutorials and training, last updated January 26, 2018..
Click here first if you're new to SPICE

NASA's Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) offers NASA flight projects and NASA funded researchers an observation geometry information system named "SPICE" to assist scientists in planning and interpreting scientific observations from space-based instruments aboard robotic spacecraft. SPICE is also widely used in mission engineering tasks associated with these missions.

SPICE is focused on solar system geometry (pdf). The SPICE system includes a suite of software known as the SPICE Toolkit consisting of application program interfaces (APIs) that customers incorporate in their own application programs to read SPICE data files and, using those data, compute derived observation geometry such as altitude, latitude/longitude and lighting angles. The Toolkit also contains a number of utility programs used to make and manage SPICE data files.

SPICE is widely used in the NASA and international planetary exploration communities. However use of SPICE is not a requirement of NASA's Planetary Science Division, and is simply a recommendation of NASA's Planetary Data System and of the International Planetary Data Alliance.

The SPICE system is freely available to space scientists and engineers around the globe, subject to the provisions explained on the Support and Rules web pages. SPICE may also be used outside of the planetary science discipline, subject to those same provisions.

SPICE data and software may be used within many popular computing environments. The software is offered in FORTRAN 77, ANSI C, IDL®, MATLAB® and Java Native Interface. Python interfaces to SPICE are available from third parties.

For those early-stage projects considering how to deal with ancillary data, NAIF offers a discussion titled Ancillary Data Production (PDF).

In addition to developing and maintaining the SPICE system components NAIF serves as the "Navigation Node" of NASA's Planetary Data System, archiving SPICE data from NASA's planetary exploration missions. Archived SPICE data from non-NASA missions is sometimes available at other national archives, and in some cases it is also available at the NAIF Node.

The current version of the SPICE Toolkit, Version N66, was released April 10, 2017. As usual, this version is fully backwards compatible with earlier versions. To see what was added, fixed and changed relative to the previous release read the "" file available on this website under the Toolkit link for the language of interest to you, or see that same file in a Toolkit package you have downloaded.

Some customers find that using the Safari browser in association with some of these web pages yields unfamiliar results; consider trying a different browser.

Occasionally a customer is inside a local firewall having settings that prevent connecting to the NAIF server using the FTP protocol; check with your system administrator if you are having such problems.

Occasionally JPL's network security team will block incoming http, ftp and email traffic from Internet domains from which hacking attempts or malware have been received. Contact NAIF via a colleague if you believe this has happened to you.

Sign up with SPICE Announce to receive announcements from NAIF regarding new software, bug fixes, important new kernels (data), training opportunities and similar items. (This is strongly recommended for all SPICE users.)

Sign up with SPICE Discussion should you wish to exchange SPICE-related ideas or questions with other SPICE users. (If you have a question for someone at NAIF, simply send email to that person: don't use "SPICE Discussion.")

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