It's been 6 months since NASA's selfie-capable Perseverance rover hit the iron oxide floor of Mars. "Percy," as some affectionately call the bot, has been exceptionally useful in that short span despite only trekking just under one-and-a-quarter miles of surface. It's also taken more than 125,000 captivating pictures during its stay. Some of them made the creative folks at Google wonder "what if Perseverance had a Google Photos account?"
After years of preparation and planning, NASA made history in space today. Early this morning, the Ingenuity helicopter managed to take flight in the thin atmosphere of Mars, with more tests planned for throughout this week. Google never lets a notable world event pass by without some kind of recognition, and with that same creative spirit, a brand-new Easter egg celebrating the accomplishment is now live.
Anyone who's been following the ins and outs of Android for the last few years will remember the OnePlus One. The teasers and promotions were pretty obnoxious, but the phone itself was great when it launched in 2014. A big part of that was thanks to the Snapdragon 801, which made the OPO faster than any other phone in its price range. This powerful ARM chip popped up in a lot of less influential (and more expensive) devices that same year, and now it's on Mars. The Snapdragon 801 is at the heart of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter, which just made history as the first machine to take flight on another planet.
Much like Gru, Nokia has always been obsessed with stealing the moon. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but the company has taken a very keen interest in developing technology for lunar missions. Back in 2018, Nokia was working on a system that would bring LTE connectivity to everyone's favorite lumpy gray rock. Now NASA has agreed to hand over 14.1 million dollars to help make Nokia's dream a reality.
Even if stay-at-home orders are slowly lifting all around the globe, we're mostly supposed to stay inside to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But that shouldn't stop us from exploring things we'd normally see in museums or shops thanks to 3D models available in Google Search on Android and iOS. We've already covered which animals and pets you can lure into your home, but if you and your kids get tired of acting as an amateur zoologist, there is a whole world to explore, starting with planets and space crafts courtesy of NASA over anatomy all the way to shopping for shoes, and most recently, chemistry models.
Google's AR Stickers might have fictional spacecraft from Star Wars, but the more dedicated space enthusiasts will probably prefer the NASA-developed Spacecraft AR. As you might be able to deduce from the name, this app brings spacecraft to you via artificial reality, and it's actually pretty good at it.
Yesterday, NASA announced that it (along with international partners) had discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a single star. Even more importantly, three of them are located in the star's habitable zone, the range around a star where liquid water is possible. The solar system (named TRAPPIST-1) is unfortunately located 40 light-years away from Earth, so sending a probe or a person there isn't really possible for now.
Still, it's a very important discovery, and Google is commemorating the event with a Google Doodle.
I imagine for the folks at NASA, the Moon has become kind of boring. The organization has been launching stuff at that floating rock since the 60s. It has sent rockets, people, and unmanned probes. And that doesn't even count the work others around the world have contributed to our understanding on the satellite. People have been staring up at that thing for as long as we've been a species.
Needless to say, quite a bit of information about the Moon has surfaced in that time. We've named craters, measured slopes, mapped minerals, and otherwise produced enough data to leave a person feeling lost.
So we all know that Project Tango is cool – programing a mobile device to be aware of its own surroundings just as people are can be potentially beneficial in many ways. NASA has clearly seen something in the in Tango as well, as the company has been working with Google since last year to utilize the project with its own robotic platform called SPHERES. In a nutshell, it wants to incorporate Tango into autonomous, space-aware robots that will take some of the load off of astronauts on the International Space Station by doing some of the work for them.
NASA is kind of awesome. In case you live under some red rocks, the organization sent this crazy robot to Mars that sends us back high-resolution photos. The future is amazing. Of course, there's nothing the space administration loves more than curiosity (which is why they named the Mars rover after it), and it's aiming to fuel yours with this 3D model explorer.
In a somewhat odd move, instead of simply providing the 3D models themselves, the app requires you to print out some markers. Then, as you've seen in other AR apps, you point your camera at the page and the model appears.