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SPICE Self Training

Updated July 24, 2020

About once every 14-18 months NAIF offers a 3-day "beginners" training class somewhere in the U.S. Taking this class is perhaps the best way to learn how to use SPICE software and data. But it may not be convenient or possible for you to attend the class. In this case you might consider doing your own self-training, using nearly the same materials and agenda NAIF uses in the 3-day class.

The self-training comprises a set of tutorials you will read, and some programming lessons you will undertake that are interleaved with the tutorials at the correct locations.

In the live classes, and also for this self-training, we provide a reduced and reorganized set of tutorials as compared to the tutorials offered elsewhere on this website that in some cases contain more details. Even though this set of tutorials is reduced somewhat, you may still find the material a bit overwhelming. Don't let that scare you away! It's the programming lessons that will do the most to instruct you, and you can repeatedly refer back to the tutorials for help while writing the small training programs.

The self_training set of tutorials is available in a ZIP file, here, and as individual documents, here. There are 32 primary tutorials listed. There are also 10 additional tutorials (A1 through A10) covering a variety of topics. None of these are needed for the self-training exercise, but some could be useful nevertheless (especially the one titled lunar-earth_pck-fk, if you intend to work with the moon or the earth).

There is also a SPICE program example provided as a set of tutorials, with one set of charts for each of these languages: Fortran 77, C, IDL and MATLAB. (P1 through P4)

Note that the first document is titled self-training_agenda. This shows NAIF's suggestion for how to go through the tutorials, including when to do each programming lesson.

The suggested agenda may not be the best for you, especially if you are new to SPICE. Please read Self Training Advice for important suggestions.

In order to do the programming lessons you must download and install the SPICE Toolkit that is correct for your computing environment. There are many environments offered: be very careful to pick the one that matches your environment.

This is the location of the programming lessons to use. Each of eight lesson pacakges is provided for two overarching programming environments: Unix/Linux/OSX and Windows. Pick the set that is correct for your operating system. The lessons are offered in Fortran 77, C, IDL, MATLAB and Python. There is an additional set of lessons for use with NAIF's WebGeocalc on-line geometry engine (WGC), the use of which does not require any programming.

Be sure to read and follow the lesson "installation" instructions provided at the bottom of the Programming Lessons webpage, or in the aareadme.txt file found with the lessons.

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