NASA and Google teamed up to bring the Solar System closer to home with augmented reality (AR). Now you can put Uranus anywhere! But seriously, the new AR provides 3D looks at almost everything in our Solar System: planets (even Pluto!), their moons, and the Sun. It even includes human-made objects like probes, satellites, even the International Space Station and James Webb Space Telescope. Type the name into the Google search bar and click “view in 3D” in the results. If you’re using the Google app, you can click “View in your space” and boom, the Moon is in your house! Or hovering above your cat. The possibilities for silly photos (and learning too, I suppose) are endless.
As you can see, I continued a pattern of using my smartphone mostly to take pictures of my dog Minion. If you don’t want the SLS rocket following you around all day, you can experience all the 3D views thanks to the “Our Solar System” project on Google Arts & Culture. It has the same moons, rovers, satellites, and more. We learned about this partnership, and its excellent potential as a time-waster, thanks to IGN.
The AR program invokes a similar level of excitement as when Google Earth first came out. It’s fun to be able to zoom all the way out, spin the globe like a top, and then explore. Will people use NASA and Google’s 3D views to make new discoveries? Chart interesting phenomenon? Or will they mostly just take silly pictures?
Without really meaning to, one of the first things I managed to do was take the picture below of my dog sniffing Uranus. Oh well, there’s always time to learn about the planet later.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.