ESA, in collaboration with NAIF and the MEX Instrument Teams, produce a whole set of SPICE kernels for Mars Express (event kernels are not produced for ESA missions). Refer to the description of the MEX repository for information about naming
conventions and time coverage for each of the kernels.
The Mars Express SPICE dataset consists of several SPICE kernels, organised as follows:
CK kernels. This kernels contain information about orientation of the space vehicle or any articulating
structure on it.
FK kernels. Reference frame specifications. Definitions of, and specifications of, relationships between
reference frames (coordinate systems). Among the frames kernels included, there are kernels that specify reference frames
related to the earth and the spacecraft.
IK kernels. Kernels that hold intrument information, such as field of view or internal timing.
LSK kernel. This kernels hold a table with the leapseconds used to convert between ET and UTC.
PCK kernels. These kernels provide information about Solar System bodies orientation and shape, and possibly
parameters for gravitational, atmospheric or rings models.
SCLK kernel. This kernel (spacecraft clock coefficients) allows for conversion between ET and spacecraft
clock. If there are multiple LSK kernels in this dataset, the latest kernel supersedes he previous ones. More
information on the SCLK kernel(s) in this dataset is provided in SCLKINFO.TXT.
SPK kernels. Kernels with information about ephemeris (position and velocity) of the spacecraft and solar
system bodies. The dataset provides such information for the planets, the Sun, the Moon, the New Norcia tracking station,
several DSN tracking stations, and the spacecraft. More information on the SPK kernels in this dataset is provided in
Access to the kernels
The MEX SPICE repository contains all the operational kernels for Mars Express, organised by kernel type.
Origin of the kernels.
Generic kernels provided by NAIF.
NAIF generates kernels that are mission independent. Some of them are used by ESA missions:
Binary and text PCK and LSK kernels.
Some SPK kernels with ephemeris of the solar system bodies.
SPK kernels for ground stations.
Frames kernels for ground stations.
Other kernels provided by NAIF.
NAIF collaborates with the ESA SPICE Team and the Intrument Teams to create instrument and frames kernels for
the different ESA Missions:
The instrument kernels (IK) have been developed NAIF, the intrument teams and RSSD/ESA.
The Mars Express frames kernel has been created by NAIF, in collaboration with RSSD/ESA.
Kernels generated with ESOC Ancillary Data.
Orbit, clock and attitude kernels are created from ESOC data:
ESOC ancillary data are the main source of information required to create SPICE kernels
for attitude (CK), orbit (SPK) and time (SCLK) information for the Spacecraft.
Also, ESOC ephemeris data are used in the creation of SPK kernels for martian satellites.
See below for a more detailed explanation on how these kernels are generated.
Kernels created by the Mars Express SGS (Science Ground Segment), alone or in collaboration with the intruments teams.
CK kernels with orientation of the Mars Express Solar Arrays.
RSSD frames kernel.
Kernels from other sources.
Ephemeris kernels provided by Royal Observatory of Belgium. They contain spacecraft position information,
calculated independently of ESOC ancillary data.
CK kernels describing the motion of the ASPERA scanner, produced by the ASPERA team.
Creation of SPK, CK and SCLK kernels from ESOC Ancillary Data.
In terms of orbital data, the mission can be divided in three different phases: cruise phase, nominal
phase and extended phase. The ftp repository provides the most up to date orbit kernels for Mars Express.
Several different types of data products are provided by ESOC: ORHM and ORMM. The ORHM product covers the
cruise phase from launch to the Mars Insertion, and provides the orbit data as heliocentric states. There
is only one ORHM product. During the nominal and extended phases, new ORMM files are provided on a regular
basis (typically once a week), each of them covering a month period. The orbital data contained in these
files provide the state of Mars Express with respect to Mars.
MARSAT_ESA products are created using ESOC ephemeris, and give ephemeris information for the martian satellites,
from 2004 until the end of 2007. Creating MARSAT_ESA kernels for further dates is not foreseen.
Attitude data for the spacecraft are provided for all mission phases except for safe modes, for the past and
the near future. The attitude is provided in several records, called segments, each covering a specific time
span. These segments have no overlap, but there may be gaps between the segments, and even gaps in the segments.
The available attitude data is usually predicted, although kernels with reconstructed data are present (for
time intervals for which the predicted attitude is known to be not accurate enough).
Time Correlation Data.
Time Correlation is one of the most critical pieces of information needed for the use of the SPICE system
within the Mars Express mission. This information allows the conversion between the Mars Express S/C Clock
time and UTC time. ESOC delivers time correlation data which are the source for the SCLK kernel.
ESOC always provide predicted and reconstituted orbit data, but only predicted attitude data. Only SPK kernels
with reconstructed data are archived.
An automated system, called ADCS (Automatic Data Conversion System) is responsible for the generation of CK,
SPK and SCLK kernels from the ESOC flight dynamics data. ADCS detects when a new product was generated or a new
time correlation packet is available, and run a series of processes in order to create the corresponding kernels.
ADCS uses the SPICE toolkit in order to fulfill its task. It runs in a server physically located at ESAC.