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Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of pretend space buggies!


NASA’s new augmented reality app lets people control its robotic vehicles used for space exploration. Does this mean we can Mars rove the streets of Poughkeepsie? Yup.

Details from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory site:

Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will touch down on Mars on Aug. 5 at 10:31 p.m. PDT (Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT), and the twin GRAIL spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, currently orbiting the moon.

After you open it, the app uses your phone’s camera lens to insert spacecraft like the rover and GRAIL into scenes you’re viewing. It works with iPhone and iPads only for now. Future versions will incorporate other spacecrafts like the Cassini that orbits Saturn and the Dawn which is embedded in the asteroid belt. Fear not Android users, JPL promises the app will be available “on other formats in the near future,” because really, you can’t drive a space buggy without a droid.

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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