NASA launches an iPhone app

NASA launches an iPhone app

NASA launches an iPhone app

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 27 2009 8:00 AM

NASA launches an iPhone app

[Note: NASA is trying to launch the new ARES I-X rocket, scheduled right now for 10:54 Eastern time. As I write this weather is not so great so it may be a scrub, but follow me on my BANews feed on Twitter for the latest!]

I don't usually talk about iPhone-specific stuff, but as it happens I own (a spiffy pink) one, and this is pretty cool.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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NASA_iphoneapp_missionsNASA just released a new app for the iPhone, and I like it. It has info on missions, pictures, videos (links to YouTube), and more. It's a pretty slick app, professionally put together.

You can filter the missions to look at using categories like Earth, Solar System, Moon and Mars, and so on. It tells you when it launched, what the mission elapsed time is (which is pretty nifty), and from there you can access images and video related to the mission. Not only that, but if you tap the Earth icon when a mission is displayed, it will show you a real-time map of the location of the spacecraft over the Earth! I checked it using the space station against the info at Heavens Above, and it matched closely.

If you start from the home page and tap the image icon at the bottom, you get a choice of pictures from NASA's Image of the Day as well as the venerable Astronomy Picture of the Day. I checked those and they were up to date with the current day's images, too. Nice.

Videos appear to be in reverse chronological order, which is nice. Also, if you tap the RSS symbol you get the NASA Twitter stream. Very well done.

Any complaints I have are minor. It refers to Fermi as GLAST, which was its name before launch-- a year ago. Some missions are missing, and I hope they'll put them in when they update the software. Swift would be a great candidate for this, especially if they give real-time access to when it sees gamma-ray bursts. Things like that would turn this app from something cool into something extremely handy. Also, it seemed a little slow to get started, even using 3G. I turned on my wireless connection and it zipped right up though.

Still and all, it's worth the download. If you're a geek like me (and c'mon, admit it: if you're reading this blog in the first place, it's too late to hide it) you'll enjoy it.