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Spacecraft 3D by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Space and its exploration are subjects that remain exciting throughout anyone’s life. Whether you’re learning about the planets in grade school or watching the hi-def video of Curiosity’s descent onto Mars, the awe-inspiring size and beauty of the universe and the opportunities it presents, never stale.

One of the best ways to foster this love for exploration in our children is by giving them fun, interactive learning tools to help them better understand the universe around them. Add some cool augmented reality software, programs that blend real-time images supplied by your phone’s camera and computer generated images, to the mix of educational toys for your kids.

Available now from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is Spacecraft 3D. This exciting application uses a printed “marker” image that you can place on any flat surface and it uses your mobile device’s camera to create the illusion that 3D models of some of NASA’s most iconic spacecraft are in the room with you. You can rotate the marker, or move your camera around it, to see the model from all angles, and the software even includes animations to demonstrate the mechanical functionality of the crafts. Spacecraft 3D also contains interesting facts about each vehicle, including its size, launch date, history, and where it is in the Solar System right now.

The app has models and info on six NASA projects – Curiosity, GRAIL, Cassini, Voyager, Dawn, and Juno – but promises to add more in the future. It’s available for free on the iPhone and iPad. So, if your kids are space buffs, this is a great gift that will keep them occupied, and learning, for hours.

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