Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nasa releases iPhone application

Nasa has released its own iPhone application, which allows users to view the space agency’s vast library of images and to track spacecraft in real time.

Astronomy geeks can also keep up to date with the Nasa Twitter feeds, watch Nasa videos and do their own countdowns to the big launches.

The app, available free through the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch, has four functions – “Missions”, “Images”, “Video” and “Updates”.

It lets users see instantly where in the skies the International Space Station is, using a Google Maps-based system (at the time of writing it is over the North Pacific, just south of Alaska, moving towards the western United States and Mexico). If a Space Shuttle was flying, iPhone owners could track that too.

You can also use it to keep up to date with Constellation, the proposed Space Shuttle replacement. The Ares 1-X rocket, the first test rocket of the new mission, is expected to launch on 27 October.

It also provides an Image of the Day – currently a pre-launch shot of Ares 1-X – and an Astronomy Picture of the Day, currently a series of beautiful images of galaxies called Galaxy Zoo.

This is not the only app targeted at stargazing iPhone owners. Pocket Universe creates a planetarium within the iPhone, letting users see what constellations are visible from where they are.