As Curiosity makes its way to Mars, NASA is encouraging anyone with an Apple device to explore the technology behind the one-ton rover.
We tried out the app at the Pasadena Sun office to see how easy it is for regular folk to navigate. The process is pretty simple: You print out a target photograph of rocks, lay it anywhere — a desk, a mountaintop, a car — and wait for your device to recognize it.
In seconds, the piece of paper transforms into a 3-D spacecraft, where you can move it 180 degrees and control its arms or mast. You can also zoom in or out and save photographs of the model. An information tab boils down basic information about the spacecraft you’re viewing.
But there's not much to the app beyond that. It's mainly just a fun tool to view some of NASA's missions in 3-D. For now, only models of Curiosity and the twin GRAIL moon spacecraft Ebb and Flow are available on the app, but NASA hopes to add more spacecraft in the future.
"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," Kevin Hussey, manager of visualization technology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. "Looking down the road, we've got a veritable solar system full of spacecraft to work with."
Spacecraft 3D is available for download on iTunes.
--Tiffany Kelly, Times Community News