With seemingly limitless scientific ingenuity, it should have been easy to guess that the one thing the brainiacs at NASA don’t know how to do is be popular. NASA’s rep has been on the decline since word of an economic slowdown hit and resources began going to the war in Iraq. Then there was the moon bomb that wasn’t. But with today’s unmanned (and successful!) rocket mission, NASA has a lot to crow about once more.
They’ve also introduced an application for the iPhone and iPod touch. With this app, users can keep up with current missions and track future ones. The Orbit Tracker follows the inter-stellar movements of the U.S. space station and other NASA orbiting hardware. It also offers connectivity to NASA’s Twitter page, where users can keep up with astronauts while on missions, in real time.
Ares I-X booster recovery. Photo by Manny Deleon. #Ares I-X
But perhaps the most interesting innovation is the access to NASA’s vast image library, offering images from various telescopes and space cameras as they are uploaded. Users will be some of the first to see these images from the deepest parts of space. There are also some really awesome “artist renderings” from the ’60s and ’70s.
The Ares 1-X rocket that launched today is part of testing missions in effort to return astronauts to the moon and finally get a manned mission to Mars. Creating new interest in the space program is part of an ongoing effort by NASA to once again get the attention of Congress, who have routinely cut funding in recent years. Hopefully, this application is not simply a small app for man, but a giant leap NASA public relations.
We know we’re excited!