NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool.
The “Eyes on the Solar System” interface combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft and explore the cosmos. Screen graphics and information such as planet locations and spacecraft maneuvers use actual space mission data.
“This is the first time the public has been able to see the entire solar system and our missions moving together in real-time,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington.
Users may experienced missions in real-time, and “Eyes on the Solar System” also allows them to travel through time. The tool is populated with NASA data dating back to 1950 and projected to 2050.
The playback rate can be sped up or slowed down. When NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, users could look ahead to see the mission’s five-year journey to Jupiter in a matter of seconds.
Point of view can be switched from faraway to close-up to right “on board” spacecraft. Location, motion and appearance are based on predicted and reconstructed mission data. Dozens of controls on a series of pop-up menus allow users to fully customize what they see, and video and audio tutorials explain how to use the tool’s many options. Users may choose from 2-D or 3-D modes, with the latter simply requiring a pair of red-cyan glasses to see.
Direct to: Introductory Video and “Eyes on the Solar System” Web Site
Note: Access requires use of Unity 3D Plug-In (Free)
Web Resources: "NASA Gives Public New Internet Tool To Explore The Solar System"
Filed by September 3, 2011on