Getting Started

pySPEDAS supports Windows, macOS and Linux.


Python 3.7 or later is required.

We recommend Anaconda, which comes with a suite of packages useful for scientific data analysis. Step-by-step instructions for installing Anaconda can be found at: Windows, macOS, Linux


To get started, install the pyspedas package using PyPI:

pip install pyspedas

To upgrade to the latest version of pySPEDAS, include the ‘–upgrade’ option when calling pip, e.g.,

pip install pyspedas --upgrade

Local Data Directories

By default, the data are stored in your pyspedas directory in a folder named ‘pydata’. The recommended way of setting your local data directory is to set the SPEDAS_DATA_DIR environment variable. SPEDAS_DATA_DIR acts as a root data directory for all missions, and will also be used by IDL (if you’re running a recent copy of the bleeding edge).

Mission specific data directories (e.g., MMS_DATA_DIR for MMS, THM_DATA_DIR for THEMIS) can also be set, and these will override SPEDAS_DATA_DIR.

Loading and Plotting Data

You can load data into tplot variables by calling pyspedas.mission.instrument(), e.g.,

import pyspedas

The load routines support several keywords to control which data products are loaded (datatype, level, etc).

To plot the tplot variables that were loaded, use tplot from pytplot, e.g.,

from pytplot import tplot
tplot(['mms1_fgm_b_gse_srvy_l2_btot', 'mms1_fgm_b_gse_srvy_l2_bvec'])

Accessing the Data and Timestamps

Once the data are loaded into tplot variables, you can access them using the get_data function from pytplot. e.g.,

from pytplot import get_data

mag_data = get_data('mms1_fgm_b_gse_srvy_l2_bvec')

# get_data returns a namedtuple with 'times' and 'y':
mag_data.times # the unix times, stored as a numpy array
mag_data.y # the data values

Note: some types of data (spectrograms, DFs) have higher dimensions; e.g., spectra have a ‘v’ with the y-axis values for the data stored in ‘y’, and some data can have several dimensions: ‘v1’, ‘v2’, and ‘v3’