An Android on Mars…

 

I upgraded to an Android phone recently, and love it to bits. It’s like having a PC in my pocket, but unlike my actual ageing PC it is faster than a snail with a wheel clamp on it, and doesn’t take so long to boot up I have time to pull on my jacket and go up into Kendal to do a bit of shopping before it’s ready to do some actual work.

If I’m honest, I upgraded to my phone mostly because I wanted to be able to use planetarium apps on it, apps like Sky Safari that tell you what you are seeing when you point your phone at the sky. But since getting it I’ve found so many brilliant astronomy apps my home PC now growls at my phone, it’s so jealous of it. I have apps which help me track and predict passes of the space station and Iridium flares, apps which help me monitor space weather and alert me to the possibility of an auroral display, and apps which provide me with a high resolution Moon map I can use at the eyepiece of my telescope.
FanTAStic.

I also have more than a few apps which are Mars-related, as you might expect, and some of them are helping me follow Curiosity’s mission at Gale Crater. I thought I’d tell you about them. They’re all available through Google Play. As for cost, well, some are free, others aren’t, but as I’m heading out to work soon I don’t have time to go back and check what they cost – that might have changed by now anyway. So, take a look, and if you fancy trying any or all of these for yourself, wander on over to Google Play and find out more.

1. MARS CLOCK

If you ever find yourself wondering “What time is it on Mars right now, for both Opportunity and Spirit?” well, this app is for you. It was written by rover driver Scott Maxwell, and does exactly what its name suggests – gives you the time on Mars…

You’ll note Scott’s app also gives the time for Spirit. Well done, Scott. Gone, perhaps, but forgotten? Never.

2. MARS IMAGES

This app lets you browse the latest images sent back by both Curiosity and Opportunity. Images are initially displayed as thumbnails, and tapping one brings it up as a larger version…

A very nice feature of this app is how it can generate 3D anaglyphs from pairs of images, so if you have a pair of funky red and blue 3D glasses handy while you’re using it you can see Mars in 3D…

I like that app a lot. :-)

3. MARS ROVER CURIOSITY

Another app which lets you browse the latest images from Curiosity, but this one presents them as colour thumbnails, and does a lot more besides…

Of course, tapping one of those thumbnails brings up a full size, higher resolution version. The app lets you select images taken by the rover’s individual cameras…

…and can also provide you with information about the weather at Gale Crater…

That part of the app doesn’t appear to update daily, so I don’t rely on it too much, to be honest. Interesting tho… and I love the “– %” figure for rainfall… :-)

4. CURIOSITY WIDGET

Not an app as such but a widget which displays lots of Curiosity- and Mars-related information in a tiny window on your phone…

Tapping any element of that mini screen brings up a wealth of information, it’s really a snapshot of where Curiosity is and what it’s like there…

I’m really enjoying playing about with using that app for serious Outreach.

5. CURIOSITY CLOCK

Ahhh, my new favourite spacey app, and one I simply can’t stop looking at every time I go to my phone. CURIOSITY CLOCK offers a graphic and from what I can tell VERY accurate representation of Curiosity’s view at Gale Crater, complete with Mt Sharp looming over it. Text on the screen tells you when local sunrise and sunset occurs. But by sweeping a finger on the time bar at the top right you can animate the display, and watch the Sun rising or setting.. and it just looks beautiful, the next best thing to standing there. The butterscotch-hued sky darkens, changing colour from a biscuity brown to a slatey grey-blue as the Sun sinks down to the horizon…

And really that’s all it does. No additional info, nothing about air temperature, Earth transit times, whatever,  just sunrise or sunset as seen by Curiosity. And that’s good enough for me, I think it’s brilliant!

So, there you go. Those are the Curiosity-related apps I use, you might find them useful too. If you use any I haven’t found yet, I’d love to hear about them.

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