[Spice_announce] SPICE in Heliophysics -- What's your opinion?

Acton, Charles H (392N) charles.h.acton at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jun 17 16:00:22 PDT 2015

                                                                          --  A question about (further) extending SPICE into the heliophysics domain --

SPICE was developed for planetary science, but in recent years its use has been extended somewhat into the heliophysics and earth science disciplines.

NASA will shortly issue a wide-ranging call for proposals to enhance the heliophysics data processing environment. Given that SPICE is already seeing some use, mostly by the efforts of others, on a few heliophysics missions, and given that some of our colleagues already said they think the heliophysics community could benefit to some degree by having a more robust infusion of SPICE into that domain, NAIF is contemplating submitting a proposal to more formally and completely offer SPICE capabilities to the NASA heliophysics community as well as to its international partners.  I would see this as an adjunct to the current methods used in heliophysics—not a replacement.

The alternative--or perhaps an alternative--is for NAIF to do nothing specifically aimed at heliophysics, but simply let its infusion continue to happen to some extent, or not, as determined by individual heliophysics flight projects.

"What would be the scope of the NAIF effort?" is an important question.  It might be more-or-less:

  - preparing a new (dynamic) frames kernel (FK) containing definitions for the majority of the reference frames ("coordinate systems") used by the heliophysics community;
  - offering kernel production training to those whose job would include this new task;
  - offering special SPICE "consumer" training classes for scientists/engineers wishing to use SPICE data and Toolkit software, similar to the current SPICE classes, but with greater emphasis and examples taken from heliophysics.

A larger effort could entail helping to restore geometry data from past or current heliophysics missions into SPICE kernels, and still other activities could be envisioned, although likely requiring more resources than would be available.

It's likely there will be a great deal of competition for the funds available (estimated to be $1.6 million/year for each of five years), so the chances of an "outside organization" receiving an award under this call are probably not high. But maybe it's worth trying nevertheless.

If you have any thoughts on this you'd like to share with NAIF, please let me know.

Chuck Acton
for the NAIF team

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