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NASA 3-D App Gives Public Ability to Experience Robotic Space Travel

by William W. on July 11, 2012
NASA

NASA‘s 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. Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move,

WASHINGTON — A NASA-created application that brings some of the
agency’s robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D now is available for free
on the iPhone and iPad.

Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraftcan maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the
new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will
touch down on Mars Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT, and the twin GRAIL

spacecraft Ebb and Flow currently orbiting the moon.

“With Spacecraft 3D and a mobile device, you can put high definition,
three-dimensional models literally into the hands of kids of all
ages,” said Stephen Kulczycki, deputy director for communications and
education at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena,
Calif.

Spacecraft 3D is among the first of what are known as
augmented-reality apps for Apple devices. Augmented-reality provides
users a view of a real-world environment where elements are improved
by additional input. Spacecraft 3D uses the iPhone or iPad camera to
overlay information on the device’s main screen. The app instructs
users to print an augmented reality target on a standard sheet of
paper. When the device’s camera is pointed at the target, the
spacecraft chosen by the user materializes on screen.

“Let’s say you want to get an idea what our Curiosity Mars rover is
all about,” said Kevin Hussey, manager of visualization technology at
JPL. “Like Hollywood directors sizing up their next shot, you move
your camera-equipped iPad or iPhone in and out, up and down and the
spacecraft perspective moves with you. It is a great way to study the
3-D nature of NASA spacecraft.”

Spacecraft 3D also has a feature where you can take your own
augmented-reality picture of the rover or GRAIL spacecraft. You can
even make a self-portrait with a spacecraft, putting yourself or
someone else in the picture.

“In the near future, we will incorporate the Cassini spacecraft, which
is orbiting Saturn, the Dawn spacecraft, which is deep in the heart
of the asteroid belt, and the Voyagers, which are right now at the
very edge of our solar system,” said Hussey. “Looking down the road,
we’ve got a veritable solar system full of spacecraft to work with.”

Spacecraft 3D currently is only available for Apple formats, but
should be available on other formats in the near future.

The detailed computer models of the spacecraft used in Spacecraft 3D
originally were generated for NASA’s “Eyes on the Solar System” web
application. Eyes on the Solar System” is a 3-D environment full of
NASA mission data that allows anyone to explore the cosmos from their
computer.

For more information on how to download the Spacecraft 3D app, visit:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spacecraft-3d/id541089908?mt=8

For more information about Eyes on the Solar System and NASA robotic missions, visit:

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes/

For information on the GRAIL mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/grail

For information on Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl

William W.
I am an amateur astronomer with a focus on astrophotography and deep space objects. I have 15+ years in the web publishing business and over 20 years as a space enthusiast. I enjoy reading and writing about the amazing discoveries of brilliant scientists and engineers.
 
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