NAIF offers for public use a SPICE-enahnced version of the open source visualization tool named Cosmographia. This is an interactive tool used to produce 3D visualizations of planet ephemerides, sizes and shapes; spacecraft trajectories and orientations; and instrument field-of-views and footprints. Cosmographia has many user controls, allowing one to manage what is displayed, what vantage point is used, and how fast the animation progresses. The ESA SPICE Service provides the setup in order to load the ESA Planetary Missions in Cosmographia.

Cosmographia originated as primarily a general interest solar system simulator, and it still works wonderfully in that role. However, with permission from the tool's author, NAIF is extending the open source Cosmographia tool to make use of SPICE kernels to accurately model the observation geometry of planetary missions for which substantial or complete sets of SPICE data are available. With these extensions SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia should also be of interest to professional scientists and engineers.


Cosmographia is a stand-alone application for which executable binaries have been prepared on relatively recent versions of OSX, Windows and Linux. They likely work on more modern versions of the named operating systems and perhaps on some older versions as well. The latest version of SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia for the different flavour of OS is available in the following links:

Using SPICE data with Cosmographia requires the appropriate SPICE kernels (data files) on your computer, and a set of catalog files that use JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to define which SPICE files to use and how to use them. The ESAC SPICE Service provides the catalog files for the following ESA Planetary Missions:

Mission Repository Browser Zipped package
JUICE cosmographia/missions/JUICE/ JUICE
ExoMars 2016 cosmographia/missions/EM16/ EM16
BepiColombo cosmographia/missions/BEPIC BEPIC
MARS-EXPRESS cosmographia/missions/MEX MEX
ROSETTA cosmographia/missions/ROS ROS
VENUS-EXPRESS cosmographia/missions/VEX VEX


We recommend you to get the zipped package for all missions and then focus on the catalog files of the mission of your interest. This package contains a README text file that should be enough to setup Cosmographia for ESA Planetary missions. This file is also available here. May this file not be enough you can find more detailed information on how to setup SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia in the following presentation

The Cosmographia on-line guide is available here. This guide is provided by NAIF and it contains all the informatio you might need to use Cosmographia.

NAIF has prepared a User's Guide for constructing these catalog files, and also provides some templates to use as starting points as well as catalog files for some missions. The NAIF SPICE Cosmographia package can be downloaded from here:

SPICE-enhanced Cosmographia_User's_Package consisting of:

  • The Cosmographia-SPICE User's Guide
  • The catalog template files mentioned in the User's Guide
  • A collection of example catalog files and corresponding SPICE meta-kernels, providing sample visualizations for several real missions
  • A "README" text file describing the contents of this package, and what additionally is needed.


The SPICE-enhanced version of Cosmographia is free to all persons, including commercial entities, subject to the license and disclaimer provisions linked below. There are no ITAR restrictions on this tool.

Important details about using this SPICE-enhanced version of Cosmographia with SPICE data should be read by any prospective user.

More information on Cosmographia is available here.


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