If you’ve ever been interested in space exploration, the science that gets us out there, and what awaits us when we do slip the grip of Earth, you’ll do well to check out the NASA App HD for the iPad. It’s a beautiful, useful and informative package that pulls together encyclopedia-style entries, videos, NASA web sites, social media, and streaming broadcasts from NASA TV.
The app starts on the view of the solar system pictured above, and you can click any of the objects shown to get a nice in-depth description. When you need to know the names of Jupiter’s 50 moons (and designations of its 12 provisional ones), they’re right at your fingertips. As are pictures from NASA’s past and stunning images of celestial phenomena. Videos cover mission descriptions, lectures, and previous NASA TV highlights.
If you want to see what’s going on with NASA’s numerous official Twitter accounts, there’s a section of the app that aggregates them and makes retweeting, or sending to Facebook or email, easy.
One nice feature that encourages users to actually get out under the night sky is a section that tracks the various objects NASA has responsibility over, from weather tracking satellites to the International Space Station. Want to know how near to your location the next ISS pass will be? This is the place to find out.
For me, the best part of the app is the streaming from NASA TV. When a space launch or landing is going on, this is where it will be shown. Ever hear that the shuttle is “about to land”, wanted to watch, but didn’t know where? With this app, you can watch live as humans go into space and return again. And with streams from the ISS, you can get a sense of their daily activities on a mission, as well.
NASA App HD is free at the iTunes Store, and well worth a download if you have any interest in the US space program. You just might find yourself learning more than you ever intended.