Explore our solar system (and stalk some spacecraft) in real time and 3D.
If you’ve ever felt the need to casually breeze around the asteroid belt in 3D, this is for you. Using its vast data archives and some slightly dated animation models, NASA has created Eyes on the Solar System, a free web app that allows you to point-and-click your way around every aspect of our solar system in real time. You can even stalk the agency’s various spacecraft as they continue their present missions, or wind time back a few years to experience their past achievements.
Eyes on the Solar System lets you explore every aspect of our solar system at any point between 1950 and 2050. You can rotate the Earth and investigate each of the NASA satellites in our orbit, and also the Moon. Clicking on Voyager 2 really helps to put our solar system, and NASA’s achievements, into perspective. It looks like it’s barely moving, but its actual speed is roughly 35,000 miles per hour; the amount of time you have to spend zooming out before you can catch it in the same frame as Earth is really impressive. Although the graphics mean that none of the planets look particularly good up close, this app seems to be more about experiencing perspective than trying to see inside the lunar landing module.
The app is really easy to use, even if things can sometimes get a bit trippy when you’re using a touchpad rather than a mouse. NASA has released this handy YouTube tutorial to explain all you need to know to get started.