NASA is now allowing users to follow the mission of New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto through the free ‘Pluto Safari’ app. The spacecraft will make its first flyby of the dwarf planet, zooming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) on its surface on July 31.
The app was released last month, and is available for free on iOS and Android. The Pluto Safari app will help users to follow the latest news, and teaches about the distant frigid realm the spacecraft is exploring. It will also provide the latest location of New Horizons spacecraft, along with 3-D views of the Solar System, Pluto system and the spacecraft. The app features time control, for viewing the mission forwards or backwards, to track it step by step.
“We didn’t want to put a price on it, because we wanted to get it in the hands of as many people as we could,” said Pedro Braganca of Simulation Curriculum Corp.
The status bar shows the current location, time and date of the mission, and a countdown in time on when the spacecraft will reach Pluto. The app will display Pluto’s location in the sky, and the simulator will help in providing an accurate depiction of the sky. Users can touch and drag for changing the direction along with zoom in and zoom out for adjusting the field of view.
Since Pluto’s discovery in 1930, only little information exists about the dwarf planet. It lies far from the sun at 3.65 billion miles or 5.85 billion kilometers. Braganca stated that it is going to give a clear look at its world and its moons. The spacecraft will relay information back to Earth for more than a year, and it is expected to study another body beyond Pluto in 2019. Users can download the Pluto Safari Android app here and the Apple iOS app here.