With the advent of the Heliophysics/Geospace System Observatory (H/GSO), a complement of multi-spacecraft missions and ground-based observatories to study the space environment, data retrieval, analysis, and visualization of space physics data can be daunting. The Space Physics Environment Data Analysis System (SPEDAS), a grass-roots software development platform (www.spedas.org), is now officially supported by NASA Heliophysics as part of its data environment infrastructure. It serves more than a dozen space missions and ground observatories and can integrate the full complement of past and upcoming space physics missions with minimal resources, following clear, simple, and well-proven guidelines. Free, modular and configurable to the needs of individual missions, it works in both command-line (ideal for experienced users) and Graphical User Interface (GUI) mode (reducing the learning curve for first-time users). Both options have "crib-sheets," user-command sequences in ASCII format that can facilitate record-and-repeat actions, especially for complex operations and plotting. Crib-sheets enhance scientific interactions, as users can move rapidly and accurately from exchanges of technical information on data processing to efficient discussions regarding data interpretation and science. SPEDAS can readily query and ingest all International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP)-compatible products from the Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF), enabling access to a vast collection of historic and current mission data. The planned incorporation of Heliophysics Application Programmer's Interface (HAPI) standards will facilitate data ingestion from distributed datasets that adhere to these standards. Although SPEDAS is currently Interactive Data Language (IDL)-based (and interfaces to Java-based tools such as Autoplot), efforts are under-way to expand it further to work with python (first as an interface tool and potentially even receiving an under-the-hood replacement). We review the SPEDAS development history, goals, and current implementation. We explain its "modes of use" with examples geared for users and outline its technical implementation and requirements with software developers in mind. We also describe SPEDAS personnel and software management, interfaces with other organizations, resources and support structure available to the community, and future development plans.
Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (10.1007/s11214-018-0576-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.