Solar System: Things to Know This Week
10 Tools for the Armchair Astronaut, or How to Explore the Solar System from Home
At this very moment, spacecraft are surveying the solar system, from Mars, to Saturn, to Pluto and beyond. Now you can ride along to see the latest discoveries from deep space. For this week’s edition of 10 Things, we’ve assembled a toolkit of 10 essential resources for the desktop astronaut.
1. It’s Like Facebook, but for Planets
Or is it more of a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Solar System? Whatever one calls it, our planets page offers quick rundowns, as well as in-depth guides, for all the major bodies in the solar system. Explore from the sun all the way to the Oort Cloud.
2. Keep Your Eyes on This One
If you still haven’t tried Eyes on the Solar System, you’re missing out. This free, downloadable simulation app lets you tour the planets and track the past, current and future positions of spacecraft–all in 3D. Eyes on the Solar System uses real NASA data to help you take a virtual flight across both space and time.
3. Dateline: Deep Space
With so much exploration underway, discoveries and new insights into the solar system come at a pace that borders on bewildering. NASA is rewriting the textbooks, literally, on a regular basis. Relax, though: there are several easy ways to stay up to date with what’s happening in space.
4. Space? There’s an App for That
NASA offers phone and tablet apps for star gazing, pictures, news, 3D tours, satellite tracking, live NASA TV and many other kinds of info.
5. A (Very) Long Distance Call
We’re in constant communication with spacecraft all over the solar system. The Deep Space Network is a global network of giant antenna dishes that makes it possible. With this online app, you can learn how it works – and even see which spacecraft are phoning home right now.
6. Collect ‘Em All
Spacecraft 3D is an augmented reality (AR) application that lets you learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth and observe the universe. Print out the AR target and your camera will do the rest, making the spacecraft appear in 3D right in front of you. Learn more about these robotic explorers as they pop up on your desk, in your hand, or on your dog’s head.
7. Ever Wanted to Drive a Mars Rover?
This site will give you a 3D look at the Mars Curiosity rover, along with some of the terrain it has explored. It will even let you take the controls.
8. More E-Ticket Attractions
But wait, there’s more. NASA offers a variety of other fascinating (and free) online experiences, all based on actual data from real missions. Here are a few to explore:
9. The Universe Is Our Classroom
Studying the solar system makes for a compelling route into learning and teaching science, engineering and math. We have some great places to start.
10. Bring It on Home
After you’ve toured the far reaches of the solar system, you can always come home again. When you have spent time studying the harsh conditions on our neighboring planets, the charms of a unique paradise come into sharp focus, the place we call Earth.
Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.
Follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com