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NASA launches new Web tool to explore solar system

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Want to explore the solar system and follow NASA space missions in real time?

NASA is giving you the chance to through a new interactive Web-based tool called Eyes on the Solar System.

The space agency said that the tool combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft as they explore the cosmos.

‘You are now free to move about the solar system,’ Blaine Baggett, a manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, said in a statement. “See what NASA’s spacecraft see -- and where they are right now -- all without leaving your computer.”

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By using a keyboard and mouse, online users can zip through space and explore anything that catches their interest. For example, NASA in August launched a probe called June that will explore Jupiter.

Users can follow the Juno spacecraft and look over its “shoulder” to see what it sees -- and even look ahead to find out what’s ahead on Juno’s five-year journey. Users’ point of view can alternate from faraway to close-up, and switch from 2-D to 3-D with the aid of 3-D glasses.

Users can also travel back in time because Eyes on the Solar System has NASA data dating from 1950.

Download the tool here. A free browser plug-in, available at the site, is required to run it.

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-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn


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