Release Notes

This document presents user-visible changes in each release of SpacePy.

0.3 Series

0.3.0 (2022-04-27)

This release continues the phaseout of Python 2 support. No Python 2 binaries are provided, and 0.3.0 will not install on Python 2 with pip. Installation via from a source distribution is still available.

This is the last release with Python 2 bugfix support. SpacePy 0.4.0 will make no attempt to maintain functionality for Python 2 and SpacePy 0.5.0 will not function without Python 3.

Windows binaries are only provided as 64-bit wheels, installable with pip, for Python 3.6 and later. Windows executable installers and 32-bit binaries are no longer provided.

New features

The coordinates module has been overhauled with a new, Python-based backend. This provides comparable performance to the existing irbempy backend with higher precision and reduces the dependence on Fortran. By default, irbemlib will still be built at installation time. The default backend remains IRBEM; in 0.4.0, this will switch to the new ctrans based backend. The new igrf module is part of this support but may be of interest on its own.

In accordance with a change from NASA, pycdf now assumes strings in CDFs are UTF-8. It will no longer raise errors on reading non-ASCII data from a CDF. See String handling in the pycdf documentation for details.

ae9ap9 now supports the new ephem model file format (>=1.50.001) via parseHeader(). The old file format is deprecated.

Deprecations and removals

HTML documentation is no longer installed with SpacePy. help() now opens the latest online documentation. Offline documentation are available separately (files named like and spacepy-x.y.z-doc.pdf) and as part of the source distribution (spacepy-x.y.z.tar.gz or These files can be downloaded from SpacePy’s releases on GitHub; the source can also be found on PyPI.

LANLstar requires ffnet, which does not install properly with current setuptools (version 58). The SpacePy team is working on replacing this dependency, but in the meantime LANLstar is unsupported and will require manually installing ffnet and networkx.

As mentioned above, ae9ap9 support for the old ephem model file format is deprecated.

Colourmaps have been removed from plot. The same colourmaps (plasma and viridis) have been available in matplotlib since at least 1.5. (Deprecated in 0.2.3.)

The old name spectrogram for Spectrogram has been removed. (Deprecated in 0.2.2.)

The read_ram_dst function has been removed from ram, as it operates on files that are no longer written by RAM-SCB. (Deprecated in 0.1.6.)

The fix_format function has been removed from rim; Iono can now read these files directly. (Deprecated in 0.2.2.)

The from_dict method of CDF attribute lists (gAttrList(), zAttrList()) has been removed. Use clone(), which supports cloning from dictionaries. (Deprecated in 0.1.5.)

The feq function has been removed from toolbox; use numpy.isclose(). (Deprecated in 0.2.2.)

Quaternion math functions have been removed from toolbox; they are available in coordinates. (Deprecated in 0.2.2.)

Dependency requirements

Due to the new backend, scipy is now required for coordinates (even if using the old backend). 0.11 remains the minimum version.

Since LANLstar is not currently supported, ffnet and networkx are no longer treated as SpacePy dependencies.

Other changes

pycdf now defaults to creating version 3 (not backward-compatible) CDFs if the backward compatible mode is not explicitly set (set_backward()). It still issues a warning when creating a CDF if this is not set; this warning will be removed in 0.4.0. (Warning added in 0.2.2.)

Similarly, pycdf defaults to TIME_TT2000 when creating a time variable or attribute without specifying a type (EPOCH or EPOCH16 are used if TT2000 isn’t available). A warning is issued when doing so; this warning will be removed in 0.4.0. (Warning added in 0.2.2.)

On Windows, pycdf now looks in more locations for the NASA CDF library. Newer versions of the library by default install to a different location (Program Files). The DLL is also now placed in the bin directory instead of lib, so bin is searched and the value of environment variable CDF_BIN in addition to lib and CDF_LIB. The net effect should be to increase the chance of successfully loading the library, with a small chance of accidentally loading the wrong one.

The default data source for leapsecond files has been reverted from NASA/MODIS to the USNO, as USNO data services are back online. If present, entries in the configuration file will still be used instead of the default.

0.2 Series

0.2.3 (2021-10-30)

This is the last release of the 0.2 series and the last with full support for Python 2. Binary installers (including wheels) for 32-bit Windows will also end after the 0.2 series, as will Windows installers. The only binaries for Windows will be 64-bit wheels, installable with pip.

New features

pycdf now supports variables with sparse records, including enabling/disabling sparse records (sparse()) and setting the pad value (pad()). Thanks Antoine Brunet.

Deprecations and removals

The colourmaps provided in the plot module have been deprecated. The same colourmaps have been available in matplotlib since at least 1.5, and users who do not directly import the colourmaps should see no impact.

Major bugfixes

The passing of keyword arguments from bootHisto() to numpy.histogram() and has been fixed.

The check for out-of-date leapseconds in time has been fixed (previously warned even when the file was up to date.)

Fixed installation on new versions of setuptools, which removed bdist_wininst support (#530).

The handling of library paths on Windows has been updated. This should fix situations where irbempy would not import on Windows with Python 3.8 or later. This did not seem to be a problem with Anaconda, but would sometimes manifest with Python from the app store or from (#507)

Other changes

Modern leapsecond rules are applied from 1958-1972 rather than rounding fractional leapseconds. See time for full discussion of leap seconds and other conversion considerations.

The handling of the .spacepy directory (see SpacePy Configuration) has been improved. If the SPACEPY environment variable is used, the directory will be created. The import process also is less fragile in the case of a partially-created .spacepy directory or an invalid (e.g. empty) spacepy.rc.

0.2.2 (2020-12-29)

The 0.2 series will be the last with full support for Python 2; 0.2.3 will likely be the last release. Binary installers for 32-bit Windows will also end after the 0.2 series.

New features

irbempy incorporates upstream IRBEMlib rev620. This adds IGRF13 coefficients. coordinates and irbempy now also support using all supported coordinate systems as inputs to routines; if a routine does not support an input system, it will be automatically converted.

Ticktock supports conversions to and from astropy.time.Time.

The following classes, functions, and methods are new:

quaternionFromMatrix(matrix[, scalarPos])

Given an input rotation matrix, return the equivalent quaternion

quaternionToMatrix(Qin[, scalarPos, normalize])

Given an input quaternion, return the equivalent rotation matrix.

rebin(data, bindata, bins[, axis, bintype, ...])

Rebin one axis of input data based on values of another array

add_arrows(lines[, n, size, style, ...])

Add directional arrows along a plotted line.

concatCDF(cdfs[, varnames, raw])

Concatenate data from multiple CDFs


Set fill values to NaN


Check for attributes with empty string


Collective handling of ISTP-compliant variable and its dependencies.


Check DELTA variables


Check for attributes with empty string

Deprecations and removals

pycdf now warns if creating a new CDF file without explicitly setting backward compatible or not backward compatible (set_backward()). The default is still to make backward-compatible CDFs, but this will change in 0.3.0. Similarly it now warns if creating a time variable without specifying a time type; the default is still to use EPOCH or EPOCH16, but this will change to TIME_TT2000 in 0.3.0.

fix_format() is now deprecated, as Iono can now read these files directly.

Quaternion math functions have been moved to coordinates; using the functions in toolbox is deprecated.

feq() is deprecated; numpy 1.7 added the equivalent isclose().

The spectrogram class is now capitalized (Spectrogram); the old, lower-case variant is kept for compatibility but will be removed.

Dependency requirements

Not all dependencies are required for all functionality; see SpacePy Dependencies for full details, including what functionality is lost if a dependency is not installed.

numpy 1.10 is now required. (Many functions erroneously required it from 0.2.1, but this was not adequately documented.)

scipy 0.11 is now the minimum supported version of SciPy. (Again, this was erroneously required in 0.2.0 without appropriate documentation.)

Several dependencies without an established minimum version were tested.

As of 0.2.2, minimum supported versions of dependencies are:
  • CPython 2 2.7 or CPython 3 3.2

  • AstroPy 1.0

  • CDF 2.7

  • dateutil 1.4 (earlier may work)

  • ffnet 0.7 (earlier may work)

  • h5py 2.6 (earlier may work)

  • matplotlib 1.5

  • networkx 1.0 (earlier may work)

  • numpy 1.10

  • scipy 0.11

Major bugfixes

Time conversions between time systems before 1961 now use the proper number of leapseconds (0).

Many minor bugfixes.

Other changes

Data sources for leapsecond files and omni Qin-Denton files have been updated to provide current sources. If present, entries in the configuration file will still be used instead. A (configurable) warning is issued for out-of-date leapsecond files.

The representation of leap second intervals in time systems which cannot directly represent them has been changed. Formerly times such as 2008-12-31T23:59:60 were represented in e.g. UTC datetime as the the beginning of the next day, e.g. 2009-01-01T00:00:00. They are now represented by the last possible moment of the same day, e.g. 2008-12-31T23:59:59.999999. Fractional leapsecond counts are now rounded to the integer instead of truncated; this rounding is applied to the total TAI - UTC quantity not the individual increments of leap seconds. E.g successive 0.2, 0.2, 0.2 leap seconds will result in 0, 0, and 1 new leap seconds.

Similarly, leap seconds are now included in the fractional day calculation of MJD, so MJD values around a leap second may be different than in previous versions of SpacePy.

Most time systems are now converted to/from TAI rather than using datetime. This may cause small differences with previous versions of SpacePy, on order of a double precision. RDT and JD are particularly affected for dates in the modern era. Time conversions around leapseconds may also be different; in many cases they were undefined in previous versions.

now() and today() return times in UTC; in previous versions the value returned was local, but was treated as UTC for all conversions (and thus inaccurate.)

See time for full discussion of leap seconds, time resolution, and other conversion considerations.

0.2.1 (2019-10-02)

New features

The following module is new:


Support for ISTP-compliant CDFs

Deprecations and removals


Dependency requirements

No changes to minimum dependency versions.

As of 0.2.1, the minimum versions of dependencies are:
  • CPython 2 2.7 or CPython 3 3.2

  • CDF 2.7

  • matplotlib 1.5

  • numpy 1.4

  • scipy 0.10

Other dependencies have no established minimum. See SpacePy Dependencies for full details.

Major bugfixes

Fixed compliation of irbempy on several systems.

Other changes

None of note.

0.2.0 (2019-06-22)

New features

Deprecations and removals


Dependency requirements

Support for Python 2.6 was removed; 2.7 is the only supported version of Python 2.

As of 0.2.0, the minimum versions of dependencies are:
  • CPython 2 2.6 or CPython 3 3.2

  • CDF 2.7

  • matplotlib 1.5

  • numpy 1.4

  • scipy 0.10

Other dependencies have no established minimum. See SpacePy Dependencies for full details.

Major bugfixes

human_sort() was fixed for non-numeric inputs (the normal case.) This had been broken since 0.1.6.

Many minor bugfixes as well.

Other changes

Many updates to improve ease of installation, including Windows binary wheels.

0.1 Series

See the CHANGELOG file in the source distribution for changes in the 0.1 release series.

0.1.6 (2016-09-08)

0.1.5 (2014-12-23)

0.1.4 (2013-05-21)

0.1.3 (2012-06-22)

0.1.2 (2012-05-25)

0.1.1 (2011-10-31)

0.1 (2011-08-24)