NASA and Google Team Up for a Fantastic Solar System Projections Project
Let the Uranus jokes commence.
You can now view stunning 3D models of planets, moons and spacecraft into your surroundings using nothing but your smart phone, thanks to a new partnership between NASA and Google.
Our solar system is populated by a multitude of breathtakingly beautiful planets and moons, each of which is steeped in its own unique history and, in many cases, cultural importance. However, the inherant cost, difficulty, and danger of space travel means that the overwhelming majority of us will never leave the surface of our homeworld.
Thankfully, Google and NASA have partnered to bring us a new way to experience our little pocket of the cosmos, by putting over 60 Augmented Reality 3D models of solar system bodies and robotic explorers in the palm of your hand.
Simply search for a planet like Jupiter on Google, and you’ll see a new ‘3D model’ box appear either to the side of the page on desktop, or just below the initial search result if you’re browsing on a mobile device.
On desktop, you’ll be presented with a 3D model of your astronomical quarry that you can manipulate and explore to your heart’s content, along with a set of well curated facts and figures.
However, to get the most out of the new search features, you’re going to need a smartphone. By clicking ‘View in your space’ from the 3D model window, you can access a new Augmented Reality feature that lets you project entire planets into your real world environment through the screen of your phone
These models are fully 3D, and scalable, meaning that you can make them as massive or as tiny as you want. As it stands you can physically walk around, and study, each of the eight planets of our solar system, along with the dwarf planet Pluto, the Sun, and a host of weird and wonderful moons.
Along with getting up close and personal with heavenly bodies, you can also project AR models of famous spacecraft and launchers into your environment. Cutting edge observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble, and the Parker Solar Probe are all available through the Google search AR feature, as is the leviathan Space Launch System rocket.
You can also view lovingly recreated models of Neil Armstrong’s historic spacesuit, the Apollo 11 command capsule, and revolutionary spacecraft such as the Voyager 1 probe, which is now some 14.6 billion miles distant from Earth.
The new partnership has also seen the ‘Our Solar System’ project added to Google Arts & Culture. Here you can delve into the history of our solar system, and learn about humanity’s ongoing mission to explore and understand the universe in which we live.
There are also curated tours of the solar system, features on planets, and galleries of astrophotography captured by astronauts and spacecraft alike.
So congratulations, the power of AR tech just gave you a free pass to put Uranus anywhere you want, and no one can do a thing to stop you.
Anthony Wood is a freelance science writer for IGN