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Got the Touch? New Free App Explores Planet Discoveries

Credit: OpenLab/UC Santa Cruz

Let your fingertips do the space travel!

A new and innovative app for iPads and iPhones allows you to access the nearly 2,000 distant planetary systems discovered by NASA’s planet-scouting Kepler spacecraft.

Called Kepler Explorer this new app challenges users to design a planet that matches the Kepler data.

Kepler Explorer starts with drop-down menus listing all the Kepler-discovered planetary systems, plus our own solar system.

The selected system is displayed in a view that shows the planet or planets in their orbits around the host star. Shown in real time the planets look motionless, but moving a slider increases the speed until the planets zip around their star.

The touch screen lets users zoom in and move around the system, and tapping on an individual planet brings it up for further exploration. Another view shows the relative sizes of the individual planets compared to their host star.

The app is yours thanks to a team at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kepler Explorer was developed through the OpenLab initiative at UC Santa Cruz.

So far, NASA’s Kepler Mission has detected a total of 2,321 planet candidates orbiting 1,790 host stars. Automatic updates for the Kepler Explorer app will add new planet candidates as they are discovered.

This new tool is now available for free from the iTunes App Store.

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By Leonard David


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