A novel application developed by NASA provides a real time 3-D representation of the agency's robotic spacecraft. It is now available on the iPhone and iPad at free-of-cost.
The app is dubbed ‘Spacecraft 3D’ and uses animation to demonstrate the maneuverability of spacecraft as well as leverage its outside components. At present, the new app demonstrates two NASA missions such as:
- The Curiosity rover that will land on Mars on Aug. 6 around 1:31 a.m. EDT.
- The twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow that orbits the moon at present
Spacecraft 3D is one of the first augmented-reality apps for Apple devices. Augmented-reality provides a view of real-world environment to users. Additional input advances the elements. Spacecraft 3D employs the iPhone or iPad camera for clearly focusing the information on the device's main screen. The app provides instructions to users to print an augmented reality target on a standard sheet of paper. By directing the device's camera at the target, the selected spacecraft appears on screen.
A new feature on Spacecraft 3D enables the user to capture his own augmented-reality picture of the rover or GRAIL spacecraft. Even a self-portrait with a spacecraft can be created, where a person photograph can be included in the picture.
Spacecraft 3D is currently available for Apple formats, and anticipates the availability on other formats.
Spacecraft 3D includes detailed computer models of the spacecraft that were basically produced for NASA's "Eyes on the Solar System" web application. This application is a 3-D environment containing NASA mission data, through which the user can explore the cosmos via PC.