NASA iPhone App Lets You Drive a Lunar Rover (Just Try Not to Get Stuck)

By Smriti Rao | February 22, 2010 10:20 am

iRoverPresident Obama may have nixed the idea of returning astronauts to the moon anytime soon due to budgetary constraints, but that hasn’t stopped NASA from doling out a gift to its lunar fans.

The space agency has released its first iPhone game, which is called the “NASA Lunar Electric Rover Simulator.” The free app, available on iTunes, puts you in the driver’s seat of a lunar rover. The release might serve as a kind of homage to Spirit, NASA’s real-life Mars rover that recently became immobilized. (Opportunity continues chugging along.)

Nasawatch.com describes the idea of the game:

“Drive your Lunar Electric Rover (LER) over the lunar surface to conduct missions. Rescue stranded crew members, transport crewmembers, and launch and recover other Landers. Avoid being caught on the surface unprotected during Solar Particle Events (SPEs).”

The game also shows the ascent and descent of the moon lander, and aims to give players a first-hand feel for what the lunar surface looks like and how a rover works. The game is based on NASA data and file footage of actual lunar rovers, and it mimics the approximate conditions of one of the lunar base sites.

The new game is part of the space agency’s efforts to gin up more interest in its activities via trendy technology like smart phones. And the moon was not its first stop. Earlier this month, NASA released a new iPhone app that allowed users to get live updates from the surface of the sun. NASA says that app lets users “fly around the star, zoom in on active regions, and monitor solar activity.”

Related Content:
80beats: Photo Gallery: The Best Views From Spirit’s 6 Years of Mars Roving
80beats: Obama’s NASA Budget: So Long, Moon Missions; Hello, Private Spaceflight
80beats: NASA Invites You to “Be a Martian” & Explore the Red Planet’s Terrain
Bad Astronomy: Give Space A Chance
Discoblog: Is Apple Taking Sexy Back? Raunchy Apps Vanish From the App Store
Discoblog: California Lays Claim to Astronaut Garbage Left Behind on the Moon

Image: Apple

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