SpaceX-Nasa launch: learn more about the cosmos from home with these apps
From spotting the International Space Station to identifying constellations, Lounge picks four apps to expand your space knowledge
Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, marking yet another milestone in the aerospace company’s journey that began almost two decades ago in 2002. The Crew Dragon spaceship, which had lift off from Florida on Saturday aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, is the first instance of astronauts using a privately built and operated spacecraft to launch into orbit. Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley joined three other astronauts aboard the ISS and the two are expected to remain there for the coming months.
The launch, and subsequent docking, are key for another reason. It is the first time in nine years that Nasa has sent American astronauts into space on an American rocket from American soil since the discontinuation of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. The year 2020 is particularly exciting in terms of space exploration, with solar orbiter and Mars rover missions from other space agencies also imminent. Interest in space-related activities has never been so high. Lounge picks four apps that can help you explore space from the comfort of your home.
While you may not be able to see astronauts Behnken and Hurley from your roof, you can definitely spot the spacecraft they are in as it orbits the earth. The ISS Detector is an easy to use app that lets you know whenever there’s a visible ISS flyby in the skies above your current location. The app comes with a reminder-alert setting that gives you a heads up minutes before the next sighting. All you have to do is follow the compass in the app and spot the ISS as it approaches your line of sight. ISS Detector also specifies the visibility range and duration for every sighting. Available on Android and iOS
Doesn’t matter if you don’t own a telescope at home. With more phones now designed to support augmented reality or AR apps, you can simply point your phone’s camera towards the sky and spot hundreds of stars and constellations. SkyView Lite is one such free app that uses the phone’s camera to help you identify celestial objects in the sky—regardless of the time of day. The app also identifies artificial satellites (including the ISS and the Hubble Space Telescope) and with features like "time travel", you can see what the skies looked like on a particular day and date. Available on Android and iOS
The official Nasa app
Nasa’s official website itself is a great place to start if you want to stay up to date with everything that’s happening in the world of space exploration. Apart from a huge collection of the latest Nasa content, which includes thousands of images, videos, news and announcements, the Nasa app is a brilliant portal to live views of the earth from the ISS, and more than 10 podcasts. You can even access tweets from Nasa, the handles of other astronauts and live space missions through the app. Available on Android and iOS
The popular pocket planetarium app is now in its sixth iteration and is known for its excellent graphics. SkySafari lets you not only view the ISS and other satellites, but can help you identify more than 200 star clusters, galaxies and other deep sky objects. There are some excellent in-app purchase options that can now let you take audio-guided tours on the history of space and see 3D views of stars and other objects in the Milky Way galaxy. Available on Android and iOS
FIRST PUBLISHED01.06.2020 | 07:03 PM IST
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