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Support from NAIF

The SPICE tools, generic kernels, mission operations kernels for those missions where NAIF has a funded ops role, and kernels archived at the NAIF node of the PDS, are freely available to everyone from this website. Also available here are a comprehensive set of SPICE tutorials and "open book" programming lessons. But take note: it will likely take considerable effort to learn enough about SPICE to be able to write your own SPICE-enabled programs.

A somewhat simpler approach would be to use the on-line WebGeocalc tool, also available from this website. Using this tool does NOT require programming skills, but it still requires a pretty good understanding of SPICE capabilities and nomenclature.

Anyone contemplating using these products should take into consideration that assistance from the NAIF staff, including help with solving a user's problems that seem related to SPICE, is restricted to those activities where the NAIF group is specifically authorized and funded to supply such support. While NAIF would love to provide unlimited support to everyone, we haven't the human resources and authorization to do so. What we can do is the following.

  • As members of the "Navigation Node" of NASA's Planetary Data System, NAIF staff provide modest consultation to scientists who are using archived SPICE kernels and Toolkit software in pursuit of planetary science data analysis funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division.

    "Modest" is the operable word here. NAIF has provided substantial documentation, tutorials and lessons to help you learn to use SPICE. Admittedly, your doing so takes non-trivial effort. But with few people on the NAIF Team we cannot provide more than modest consultation.

  • For anyone who will be preparing an official SPICE archive for one of the NASA Planetary Science Division's flight projects, NAIF will conduct a review of the proposed archive process, and will review incremental data set submittals from the flight project. Once each data set increment has passed review, NAIF will ingest it and make it available to the worldwide planetary science community from the NAIF Node of the Planetary Data System. IMPORTANT NOTE: this is only an archive preparation service; it does not provide for instruction on the production, validation or use of SPICE kernels.

  • When hired by a NASA flight project to deploy and operate SPICE capabilities, NAIF staff will provide to flight team scientists and engineers associated with that project, SPICE-related support consistent with the scope of work and budget negotiated with the project.

  • In a few cases NASA, in agreement with a foreign space agency, has provided funding for NAIF to consult on SPICE-related issues. Whether or not any such arrangements will be made in the future is a matter for NASA's Planetary Science Division and the foreign space agency to work out.

  • While the circumstances are varied, space agencies using SPICE usually have one or more local SPICE experts who should be consulted before contacting NAIF. Links to the ESA, JAXA and ISRO websites are found here.

A table summarizing those flight projects and other endeavors for which NAIF staff are currently authorized to provide help can be viewed here (PDF).

Any flight project or other activity that wishes to consider hiring NAIF, whether to configure, deploy and operate some level of the SPICE capability, or to simply provide a consulting service for others who are implementing SPICE, should contact the NAIF manager.

If you are developing a CubeSat or lunar exploration mission that is considering using SPICE, we suggest you read Ancillary Data Production for Cubesats and Lunar Exploration (PDF).

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