NASA has a whole section on their website devoted to the Sun-Earth System, which includes real-time images of the great ball of fire in the sky. This is exciting to me because I’m a huge nerd. But iPhone owners can now be just as excited without quite the level of nerd-ity, now that they can access the 3dSun App, free of charge. It’s available for download in the App Store and from this website.
The images are compiled from twin spacecraft known as STEREO-A and STEREO-B, which together form the Solar-Terrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO), aimed at sun and measuring the flaming sphere in EUV, or Extreme UltraViolet, which explains why the sun looks like this in the app, and not the white-light version we all know, love, and need to survive:
Users of the app can rotate the sun at whim, take up-close looks at sunspots, and delve into coronal holes. Best of all, it uses real-time tracking, and when a sunflare erupts the iPhone plays an alert to let you know. The app also details other events near the sun, like the recent comet that plummeted into the fiery orb. Users of the app caught video of the ordeal, probably before news sources had even heard about it.
This application is wicked cool, an excellent evolution of NASA’s foray into providing the information they gather about the universe into the hands of who fund the research – taxpayers. The only thing I find disappointing, and somewhat contrary to that last statement of mine, is that this app isn’t available on Android phones; to provide this app to proprietary Apple and not to Google seems backward, but probably just a step into the direction – as there are more iPhone users than Android users, it’s probably just a matter of time before the code gets worked out and available on all mobile systems. Though I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Google just took the data and made the app themselves in their fantastic labs, kind of like they did with Google Mars.