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Spacecraft 3D: Augmented-reality Apps for Apple devices

There’s a great way to study the 3-D nature of NASA spacecraft. Thanks to space specialists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a new application can bring robotic spacecraft to life.

It’s available for free on the iPhone and iPad…and just in time for the early August landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars.

Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components.

“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 JPL in Pasadena, Calif.

Spacecraft 3D also has a feature where you can take your own augmented-reality picture of the rover or the GRAIL spacecraft that are orbiting the Moon.

You can even make a self-portrait with a spacecraft, putting yourself or someone else in the picture.

In the near future, the app 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.

“Looking down the road, we’ve got a veritable solar system full of spacecraft to work with,” added Kevin Hussey, manager of visualization technology at JPL.

For information on how to download the Spacecraft 3D app, visit:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spacecraft-3d/id541089908?mt=8

By Leonard David

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