[Spice_discussion] Python Interface

Bridgman, William T. William.T.Bridgman at nasa.gov
Wed Dec 16 08:26:39 PST 2009

I have have been attempting to build a lightweight Python wrapper for  

I've got an interface file that seems to work but the compiler  
settings have been elusive for building under MacOS X 10.5.  I had one  
complete build that segfaults when I attempt to load the module.

I too am using this with a rendering system, using cgkit & RenderMan  
(see http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/Gallery/NASAsHeliophysicsGallery.html, http://cgkit.sourceforge.net/users.html) 

For other packages (CCMCs Derived, Tachyon renderer, etc.), I've  
usually generated a minimal interface and then written a higher- 
level .py file to design a more friendly interface.  I suspect one can  
eventually integrate that into the .i file to build it directly in SWIG.

If anyone on the list is a little more familiar with SWIG and/or  
compiler options, we might be able to collaborate on getting at least  
a minimal wrapper to work.  Would that be useful?


On Dec 16, 2009, at 8:05 AM, K.-Michael Aye wrote:

> Dear all,
> I would like to renew my call for a Python interface for SPICE, and  
> I think, this time, I even have very good arguments! ;)
> The available software libraries for doing scientific data analysis  
> with Python are quite complete, I would say.
> The libraries numpy and scipy (http://www.scipy.org/) bring fast- 
> processable multi-dimensional data arrays (numpy) and a huge set of  
> scientific libraries (scipy) for
> 	• Astronomy
> 	• Artificial intelligence & machine learning
> 	• Bayesian Statistics
> 	• Biology (including Neuroscience)
> 	• Dynamical systems
> 	• Economics and Econometrics
> 	• Electromagnetics
> 	• Geosciences
> 	• Molecular modeling
> 	• Signal processing
> 	• Symbolic math, number theory, etc.
> Via the GDAL library (a translator library for raster geospatial  
> data formats), I have access to basically all data formats that can  
> be worked with in a GIS-way, e.g. currently I am working with  
> gigabyte-sized HiRISE data cubes, that have been produced with the  
> ISIS environment.
> Additionally, the super-easy to use Visual Python library (http://vpython.org/ 
> ) makes it very easy, for example, to visualize the progress of a  
> simulation environment, or to design a maybe complex geological (or  
> optical) situation in a planetary observation, that then can be  
> looked at, interactively, from all sides to understand the available  
> data.
> So, with all these free and openly available tools to work with  
> Python on solar system science data, there is now only one little,  
> but important thing missing, and that is SPICE.
> Imagine how easy it would be, to render 3-D results out of SPICE  
> into an interactive controllable 3-D scene with VPython? Any complex  
> set of reference systems of scientific instruments could be built  
> into VPython to help for operation and observation planning.
> Additionally, the combinatorial ways of GIS processing make this way  
> of planetary data processing increasingly popular. The addition of  
> SPICE calculations as another dimension into a GIS data cube would  
> only benefit these kind of analyses.
> I don't have anything against Java personally, but I strongly doubt,  
> that it has such a good position in terms of what SPICE is made for:  
> "to assist in planning and interpreting scientific observations from  
> space-based instruments."
> Therefore, I quite don't see, how it makes sense to give the same  
> amount of attention to a Java and a Python interface to SPICE by an  
> understaffed NAIF team.
> What's your and the readers' opinion, don't I sound convincing? ;)
> Best regards, happy holidays and a happy new year!
> Michael
> PS.:
> I was shocked, by the way, by Charles' message that his funding was  
> cut or not extended. Charles, I don't know if that would help you,  
> but maybe I can make some noise in the European labs about your  
> situation? Maybe we could put together a letter of appreciation of  
> the European planetary scientists working with SPICE? Let me know,  
> if you would appreciate these kind of activities or not.)
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Dr. William T."Tom" Bridgman               Scientific Visualization  
Global Science & Technology, Inc.          NASA/Goddard Space Flight  
Email: William.T.Bridgman at nasa.gov         Code 610.3
Phone: 301-286-1346                        Greenbelt, MD 20771
FAX:   301-286-1634                        http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/

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