One with the Cosmos: NASA App Review

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Photo courtesy of NASA via Geek.com

The human collective interest of the final frontier has never reached such high levels today. With news of a successful Mars landing to open applications and marketing campaigns to become astronauts,  we feel like space is inching its way towards the palm of our hands. It may sound a little bit hypothetical, but in this age of smartphones and portable technology, it is very literal.

Unknown to most of the smartphone savvy population, NASA has released quite a number of niche apps that cater to those who are interested in what it is exactly that they do. To normal beings like us who only know a miniscule about space exploration, apps like NASA Television and NASA Space are here to help. However, a certain app by the same famous institution aggregated the best features of their various apps into a well-developed content-filled offering for the iPhone. Called simply the NASA App, kids and adults will find so many new things about the world beyond ours. It’s no wonder why many critics have lauded this app for its frequent updates and unique content. Below, let’s unravel some of its features.

The Interface

Borrowing the ease of use from apps like Flipboard, this app greets you with a neat 9-square design that is labeled with different things that you could do with it. The grid is comprised of the following items: News and Features, Features, Missions, Images, Videos, Tweets, Programs, and TV & Radio. If you are interested in rocket launches and when the next one will occur, the News and Feature section will tell you exactly when. Here is a neat little feature from the app: Sighting Opportunities will tell you the best way to view a specific rocket or spacecraft from your current location. Get to enjoy this feature better with the assistance of the GLONASS feature of new iPhones, as said by O2’s iPhone 5S page, that accurately shows your locations based on information provided by Russian satellites. Think of it as a space navigation assistant.

The Images

With breathtaking pictures taken from different sources, it gives us a rare look at the world beyond ours – from our very own sun to distant quasars.

Additionally, we are given a gallery of images ranging from different subjects related to space exploration. Take a trip through history with images of space shuttles launched in the recent and not-so-recent past. If that is not enough, tapping on an image pulls up an in-depth article about each mission. Looking at one image is never enough and you end up feeling more in-the-know after using the app.

The same goes with the Video section. Almost 9,000 videos are available for viewing and all of them are educational and entertaining. The icing on the cake? Both image and video galleries are updated every so often and you will never run out of things to view.

The Tweeting (from Space)

The organization needs to get in on the hype that is social media. A steady stream of tweets coming from different arms of the space agency is displayed on the Tweets section of the app, from the official @NASA to @NewHorizons2015. Curiously though, some of these tweets even come from space! This is the perfect opportunity to communicate with beings that are currently extraterrestrial. Getting as-of-the-moment pictures of space through Tweets from beyond the atmosphere is definitely a cool way to use social media.

The Information

Above anything else, the app is certainly a compendium of space information that cleverly presents itself as an engaging display rather than a boring old book. With the News and Features section updating regularly and highlighting ‘Top Stories’, ‘Breaking News’,  and even separate tags for ‘Solar Systems’ and ‘Shuttles’, users feel more involved in space exploration and get to realize the impact of the agency on daily life. There is so much to learn with NASA’s humble application; even science centers for kids acknowledge this, telling that the application has enough information about space to “last a lifetime.”

The Verdict

The NASA App has everything in it that any engaging information app needs – constant updates, videos and photos, in-depth optional reading materials, social media integration. Fanatics of space exploration and astronomy need to have this app installed immediately. The NASA App is definitely deserving of five brightly burning stars.

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About the Author

Jennifer Birch always turns to space shuttle liftoff videos when she needs a little dose of happiness in her day. She is a new writer from Techie Doodlers but she has written for many blogs about technology, astronomy, gaming, and education (all of which are her areas of interest and passion).

  • Cathy Bazan

    NASA has apparently realized that the key to driving interest and support for space exploration programs is to make personal connections with people. This app seems to be an excellent to for doing just that. I am especially excited about the potential to excite kids and perhaps encourage them to go into the hard sciences, engineering, physics, and mathematics. Hopefully parents and educators will use it to spur discussions with kids. Thanks for bringing awareness to this app Ms. Birch!

    • So true. NASA does a pretty good job with social media and this is just another example of how technology can be used to educate. Thanks for reading Cathy!

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