Cosmos Story – An iPad/iPhone App For Astronomy Lovers 

If you’re into astronomy, or also into science fiction, then you should definitely download the Cosmos Story app for the iPad and iPhone.

It’s an audio and visual interactive experience that guides you through the universe. I’ve had a chance to check out the app, and it’s pretty “far out”. When starting the guide, it displays the stars in real-time, depending on your location. Wherever you point your iOS device, that’s where the stars are actually at.

You can switch between different view modes, one which shows the stars in space or the other showing the sky as if you’re on land. The “sky” viewing mode will change between night and day depending on time.

 You’re given an option to start the guide from the beginning, or you can select different chapters. Once started, a relaxed male voice gives you a tour to the stars. As he speaks, soothing, ambient space music can be heard in the background. As you listen further, the story will go deeper into the universe, ranging from other stars to other galaxies.

Certain parts of the tour will have you direct your device towards the star/objects you’re looking for. Once it confirms that you’re pointing in the right direction, the lovely narrator continues the guided tour, explaining what it is that you’re looking at. If you’ve learned this in school a long time ago, just think of it like a refresher.

Cosmos Story is definitely worth checking out if you’re a space fan. With a running time of around half an hour for the guided tour, be prepared to look upon the stars and learn about our galaxy and universe. To download for $1.99 go to your iTunes page and search for ‘Cosmos Story Vol 1’ and select iPhone or i Pad download.  A Free limited version is also offered but not highly recommended. Source: Nerd Reactor


NASA 3-D App to Experience Robotic Space Travel

With augmented reality app Spacecraft 3D, you can get up close and personal with some of NASA's heroes of robotic exploration. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 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 spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will touch down on Mars on Aug. 5 at 10:31 p.m. PDT (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 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 available only 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 originally 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. Source: NASA-JPL

For 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/.

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