The Navigation Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) at JPL, acting under the direction of NASA’s Office of Space Science, has built a data system named SPICE (Spacecraft Planet Instrument C-matrix Events) to assist scientists in planning and interpreting scientific observations (see figure). SPICE provides geometric and some other ancillary information needed to recover the full value of science instrument data, including correlation of individual instrument data sets with data from other instruments on the same or other spacecraft.

An Overview of SPICE.
This data system is used to produce space mission observation geometry data sets known as SPICE kernels. It is also used to read SPICE kernels and to compute derived quantities such as positions, orientations, lighting angles, etc. The SPICE toolkit consists of a subroutine/function library, executable programs (both large applications and simple utilities that focus on kernel management), and simple examples of using SPICE toolkit subroutines.

This software is very accurate, thoroughly tested, and portable to all computers. It is extremely stable and reusable on all missions. Since the previous version, three significant capabilities have been added: Interactive Data Language (IDL) interface, MATLAB interface, and a geometric event finder subsystem.

This work was done by Charles H. Acton, Jr., Nathaniel J. Bachman, Boris V. Semenov, and Edward D. Wright of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, see

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at danielb@caltech. edu. Refer to NPO-47017.

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This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Software Tech Briefs Magazine.

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