Fore! Golf Game Lets You Frolick on Saturn's Moons

By Veronique Greenwood | June 27, 2011 12:29 pm

enceladusThis takes location golfing to a new level.

If 18 holes on Kauai or Tenerife is old hat, grab your clubs and head to Saturn’s moons.

The NASA team behind the Cassini orbiter periodically release troves of gorgeous images of Saturn and its dozens of moons, revealing the gouges on Enceladus and the lakes of Titan. The drool-worthy vistas just beg to be explored, and you can now do just that with a nifty little Flash game developed by Diamond Sky Productions called Golf Sector 6. The game takes players through several 9-hole courses across a variety of Saint-Exupéry-esque moons, whose cratered surfaces are patched together from Cassini’s images. As Saturn drifts by in the background, you can relax, put your feet up, and bat a small pink ball toward the hole with your mouse. But beware of that pesky escape velocity: it’s different on every moon, and it’s way, way less than Earth’s.

The trick of the game is getting used to the gravity of each of these moons. While the team has made some sacrifices in accuracy for the sake of playability—Saturn’s pull on the moons’ gravitational fields is excluded, as is the fact that many of them are far from spherical and thus have irregular fields—there are still plenty of challenges in golfing in gravity 500 times weaker than Earth’s. The primary hazard is that tapping your ball just a little too hard can pop it into a stable orbit, so it will drift around to clock you in the back of the head. Another, less realistic celestial sand trap is the Death Star-like beam that whips out from big craters and vaporizes passing balls. Ouch!

To play, you draw a line with your mouse whose length indicates force of the hit and direction indicates, of course, direction. And here’s a hint: Type “t” on your keyboard to make the moon’s terrain show up, which makes it much easier to plot your path to the hole.

For those of us who are just playing for the scenery, though, the best part is chivvying your ball across ground that humans have never set foot on. There’s something about watching that pink dot trundle up and down the walls of craters at your bidding that makes it the unearthly place feel real, despite being more than a billion kilometers away.

(via Wired)

  • http://ciclops.org Carolyn Porco

    Thank you. And everyone loves our Death Star Video, as do I!

  • Veronique Greenwood

    @Carolyn–attribution fixed! Thanks for the correction. I remember the DSP Death Star video fondly!

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