At 7:49 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto. It was a historic nine-year journey spanning over 3 billion miles – a mission that provided the first up-close look at Pluto and its moon, Charon. If you missed this important moment in space exploration, there's good news. Thanks to the awesome Eyes on the Solar System app developed by NASA, you can ride onboard the spacecraft based on the New Horizons programmed flight plan.
From NASA: "This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach, which was at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday – about 7,750 miles above the surface – roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India - making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth."
Not only is NASA crushing the whole "boldly going where no man has gone before" thing, they're also on top of the app development game. In addition to Eyes on the Solar System, NASA has several applications for Mac and PC, as well as apps for mobile devices, that allow you to follow along with their scientists and engineers.
Space does not belong to any one person, but with this revolutionary technology, you can hold the cosmos in the palm of your hand – that's pretty damn cool, right?
There's also the Deep Space Network (DSN), which unfortunately doesn't show reruns of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine all day. At three sites around the globe, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory operates a network of large radio antennas called the DSN. The DSN is used to keep in contact with the spacecraft exploring our solar system and the universe beyond. For hardcore space geeks, this online tool lets you see what the satellites are up to right now. Which antennas are currently in use? Which spacecraft are talking to us? How long does a signal take to get there, and back? We're talking some serious data here, all made available by data science and app development.
Super Hot App Recommendation: Eyes on the Solar System lets you explore the planets, their moons, asteroids, comets and the spacecraft exploring them from 1950 to 2050. Ride with the Curiosity Rover as it lands on Mars or fly by Pluto with the New Horizons spacecraft—all from the comfort of your home computer. These experiences are available on a Mac or PC by downloading NASA's Eyes.