Tour The Solar System
March 16, 2011 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Tour the solar system from a browser window. "Eyes on the Solar System", currently in beta, from JPL and Caltech. Yes, you have to allow a 3rd party plugin. Sorry about that. Zoom in to earth, and the sunrise line is accurate for the current time. Zoom to asteroids, satellites, or planets. Rewind time to watch Voyager go home.
posted by lothar (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Very cool! It's like Celestia in a browser. And I'm not sure what plugin was required; it started for me just fine, no installation necessary.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:58 AM on March 16, 2011

Unity Web Player
posted by axismundi at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2011

It requires the Unity web player (which I haven't installed on my mactop yet, suppose this is as good a reason as any).
posted by Eideteker at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2011

Oh wow, I installed the plugin and the webapp spontaneously loaded. Nevermind needing to reboot, or restart my browser.
posted by Eideteker at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2011

Ah, right, I had it installed from this post last week. Still, it was probably the most painless plugin I've ever installed, and for a pretty great payoff, too.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:14 AM on March 16, 2011

Ha ha ha, I clicked around a bit then came back to Earth, and it was "upside-down." OH NO MY WORLDVIEW IS ARBITRARY! A nice reminder.

This might be fun to play with along with WolframAlpha, which I was justifying on FaceBook earlier today:
It's good for facts and figures. I've used it a lot recently to find out the current distance between, say, Earth and Jupiter (was watching 2010, wanted to see about launch windows).

It's great for supplementing wikipedia lookups (which have... static facts and figures) with current information (try asking it where the ISS is right now). It's also good for correlating information; wikipedia will give you the average distance between the Sun and Earth and the Sun and Jupiter, but Earth and Jupiter? And it will tell you things that are easily calculable, if you can just remember the formula.

‎(If you ask it where the ISS is, make sure to try the orthographic projection.)

Check this out. You have to play with the phrasing a bit (the natural language processing needs a bit of work), but it will some pretty neat questions in terms you'd spend a lot of time researching. And you can get your answers in light minutes, which is nice if you're plotting a sci-fi story and want to know the communications delay between a ship/probe and mission control. ;)
[multiple fb comments concatenated; apologies for any formatting or other errors]
posted by Eideteker at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2011

I got lost somewhere way out past the heliopause and had an existential crisis. Thanks.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2011

So damn cool. I wish I didn't have a deadline looming. I could play with this for hours. Thanks for posting.
posted by Ratio at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2011

Oh yay. I got to play with this in Alpha, and wondered if/when it would ever come to my desktop. Thanks!
posted by anigbrowl at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2011

Very nice. Thanks for pointing this out.
posted by bodega at 9:46 AM on March 16, 2011

Pretty cool. Will be a fun toy, to be sure.
Speaking of cool NASA toys, does anyone know if NASA's JTrack-3D service is dead? It's been MIA for a very long time now. I'm missing my real-time satellite tracking fix.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on March 16, 2011

> I'm missing my real-time satellite tracking fix.

If you have an Anrdoid GPS enabled device you can download free apps like Heavens Above.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 AM on March 16, 2011

Also there's this tracking post.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 AM on March 16, 2011

This is awesome. My oldest just finished up a space unit at school; I will be showing him this tonight.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:36 AM on March 16, 2011

This makes me sad for the Voyagers :(

Lost out there in the interstellar void, the solar wind just the lightest solar zephyr...
posted by Mister_A at 11:18 AM on March 16, 2011

Thanks, Burhanistan. Those are nice, bit nothing like Jtrack. JTrack is a lot more like the app discussed in this thread. You view the Earth from space and it's surrounded by thousands of little dots. Click on a dot and get information on the satellite and see its realtime orbit plot. It's navigable in all dimensions. It's quite cool.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:22 PM on March 16, 2011

NASA showed a demo of this "Eyes on the Solar System" software during the JPL coverage of the Stardust-Next flyby of the Tempel 1 comet a month ago. It was astonishing! Unfortunately, ah ain't installing that Unity plugin any time soon.

Thanks Burhanistan for the Heavens Above app pointer! I have been using the H-A website for a good 5-6 years now, to the point where I have an account and viewing locations defined across the globe, set up as I have traveled around and shown ISS flyovers to people wherever I've gone. But I had no idea about the app, and indeed the H-A website makes no mention of it. Hmmph.

This app is so good, I may have to spring for the paid version with no ads. That would be the first time I've ever paid for an app.
posted by intermod at 7:55 PM on March 16, 2011

I went there and clicked to load this Unity Player thingy, and nothing happened at all.

posted by Goofyy at 3:49 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

OIC. It's a typical piece of commercial shit that doesn't offer a linux version. Rhaomi's link helped determine that.
posted by Goofyy at 3:53 AM on March 18, 2011

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