For those of us of a certain age, the final flight of NASA’s space shuttle represented a moment of sadness and nostalgia, truly the end of an era. For those of us alive at the time, the Challenger tragedy will remain one of those moments like the Kennedy assassination, a time in our lives when we’ll never forget where we were. And while shuttle launches quickly became routine unless something went wrong, the launches themselves, and the landings, never failed to inspire those fortunate enough to witness them.
It is in that spirit that this week we feature some of the best outer-space apps available on the market, in homage to the brave men and women who took to space in the service of their country.
- Top billing goes to NASA itself, which T3.com reported recently launched the NASA App to coincide with the end of the last shuttle mission. The free app offers “a huge collection of stunning images, videos, mission information and news.” With any luck, it will keep users abreast of the agency’s next breathtakingly audacious mission, a manned NASA voyage to an asteroid.
- For those of us who like to keep our feet on solid ground, there are plenty of telescope apps to keep our eyes on the stars. The Hubble Telescope site has a free app that is certainly worth checking out. Star Chart, Star Walk, and Sky Safari let you point your phone or tablet at the sky and see a wealth of information on the celestial bodies behind it. And, of course, there’s Google’s free Sky Map for Android.
- If you’re trying to get your kids hooked on outer space apps, you might try Make a Martian, which will let your children design their own extra terrestrials, or Rocket Math, which uses the wonders of space to teach children the indispensable skill they’ll need if ever they hope to go there: math.
We like to think that mankind’s pioneering of the stars is only stalled, rather than ended, and the best way to achieve that is to keep people interested. Hopefully some of these apps can help.
Featured image: Space shuttle STS-135 Atlantis landing for the final time on July 21, 2011.
Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Use of NASA images is not intended to convey any endorsement by NASA.