The Spice Service at the European Space Astronomy Center of the European Space Agency (ESAC/ESA) announces a "SPICE" Training class that will be held by NASA's Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) at ESAC in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain, on September 12-15, 2016.



SPICE is an ancillary information system providing scientists and engineers access to spacecraft orbit, attitude and similar information needed to determine observation geometry used in planning and analyzing space science observations. SPICE is frequently used for mission engineering functions as well. Check http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/spice/ for further information about SPICE at ESA and http://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/ for further information about SPICE. The SPICE system was conceived for and remains primarily focused on solar system exploration (planetary) missions, but has also proven useful for a variety of other purposes. 



This class will be very similar to the domestic SPICE classes held by NAIF. It should be considered a "beginner´s" class. If you have taken a previous class, this class might not be best suited for you unless you need a refresher on some of the basics of SPICE. The class is intended for those who will write software that will make use of SPICE data. People not intending to do programming using SPICE software may not find this class useful. Note that the focus is mostly on using (and not producing) kernels to determine various kinds of mission geometry.

The class will interleave presentations of SPICE tutorials by the NAIF staff and "open-book" programming lessons undertaken by the students using their own laptop computers. The programming lessons are broken into chunks of increasing complexity, and come complete with needed data, tips, references, correct answers, and NAIF's own code solutions. The NAIF and ESAC staff will answer questions and offer assistance as students work through these programming exercises.



The Class will begin on Monday 12th of September at 12:00h and will end on Thursday 15th of September at 13:00h:

  • Monday
    • 10:00h Bus from Leonardo Hotel to ESAC
    • 10:45h Registration desk open
    • 11:00h Classroom open
    • 12:00h Start of class
    • 18:15h End of class 
    • 18:30h Bus from ESAC to Leonardo Hotel
  • Tuesday and Wednesday
    • 08:30h Bus from Leonardo Hotel to ESAC 
    • 09:15h Classroom open 
    • 09:45h Start of class 
    • 18:15h End of class 
    • 18:30h Bus from ESAC to Leonardo Hotel 
  • Thursday
    • 08:30h Bus from Leonardo Hotel to ESAC 
    • 09:15h Classroom open
    • 09:45h Start of class
    • 13:00h End of class 
    • 14:30h Bus from ESAC to Leonardo Hotel

We will have a coffee break in the morning (11:30h) and a coffee break in the afternoon (16:45h). There will be one hour for lunch (13:30h-14:30h Spanish time). ESAC has a Canteen facility with plentiful of options for lunch. If you have any special dietary needs please let us know. The Menu for the training will be made available at the registration desk.

You can see the detail agenda of the training here.

Arrangements for a Taxi service from ESAC to the Airport can be arranged at the class registration on Monday or during the training week. 



Some familiarity with writing programs in one of the offered languages—Fortran 77, C, IDL, MATLAB—and in building and running executables on the laptop brought by the student, is needed to make this class useful. It would also be helpful, but not mandatory, if the student has some prior experience in dealing with "space mission geometry." It is sometimes helpful if two or three student colleagues share a computer and work each programming lesson together—it's your choice.

Important details of more pre-requisites can be read here.

Details on the pre-requisites of the Practical lessons can be read here.

Important rules regarding use of SPICE are published under the "Rules" section of the NAIF webpages http://naif.jpl.nasa.gov/naif/rules.html Potential attendees should read and understand these rules before registering for the class.



ESA also provides you with a special accomodation offer at the "Leonardo Hotel Madrid City Center" Hotel (formerly known as NH Alberto Aguilera) which is close to the center of Madrid and 25 minutes away from ESAC by car and 50 minutes away from the Airport via Underground. The fees are:

  • Double (single use):     95 Euros (tax and breakfast included) 
  • Double (2 persons):    105 Euros (tax and breakfast included) 

We will provide a free bus service from the Hotel door to ESAC every day of the Training, the pick-up and drop-off times will be adapted to the training schedule.

If you wish to book a room in the Leonardo Hotel, which we highly recommend, please send an e-mail to:


before the 9th of August and indicate that you are reserving under the name: SPICE MEETING. Please note that this special offer is valid for the 9th-17th September period. You can find more information of the Hotel in the following link:


We encourage you to use this option. If you want to look for an accomodation of your own you will still be available to use the Bus Service from the Leonardo Hotel -if so we will ask you to communicate it to us-or get to ESAC by your own means.  More indications on how to get to ESAC can be found in the following link: 




There is no registration fee for this class, but attendees will be responsible for their own travel related expenses. The class is oriented to all persons who are now participating —or may participate in the future— in any space exploration project related activity specially Exomars 16, BepiColombo, Solar Orbiter and JUICEwhere SPICE capabilities could be useful. 

Registration is required in order to ensure availability of a seat. Registration confirmation will be sent before June 30, 2016. Please register ASAP. Firm commitments about attending will be required no later than June 30, 2016. ESA reserves the right to cancel the class at any time if need be. Also reserved is the right to filter registrations to keep the class to a manageable size.



You can find the feedback form here.



All the training resources after the class close-out can be found here.



Questions about the class or about registration should be directed to:

Marc Costa Sitja (+34) 91-8131-457, mcosta@sciops.esa.int, esa_spice@sciops.esa.int  

This page was last updated on 15 September 2016.