Like much of the science-loving community, we’ve been caught up in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil DeGras Tyson. It’s fascinating, thought-provoking, and entirely over our heads. If you’re like us and have already ventured back to the original version with Carl Sagan and still want more, then it’s worth checking out the NASA Visualization Explorer app. A recent update made it a universal offering on iOS devices, so you can grab it for your iPhone or iPad.
NASA Visualization Explorer acts as your guide into the world of scientific exploration. Luckily, NASA’s doing all the heavy lifting. All you have to do is sit back with the app and absorb all you can. The app does its best to be engaging, and is helped by the stunning visuals that only NASA could provide. The images in this app are what the Retina display is made for – especially on the larger iPad screen – and the majority of them are actual satellite shots.
Though it would be easy for this app to dip into digitized textbook territory, the NASA Visualization Explorer manages to avoid it. Text is geared toward a user with a pretty basic understanding of the topics at hand. We never felt too overtaken by or lost in the content, and we promise we weren’t the kids in science class with our hand raised the whole time.
The cool part about the app is that NASA adds content all the time. Every Tuesday and Thursday, a new story is added to the collection within the app. The app does get a little overzealous upon installation, though. We downloaded it and it immediately displayed the red notification circle on the app icon, telling us we had 18 stories to catch up on. There’s a backlog of nearly 300 stories on top of that. That can feel a little overwhelming, but we found the stories are all fun and digestible.
To make cosmos consumption even easier, the app has some features reminiscent of reader apps. There’s the option to download stories for offline reading, build and customize reading lists, and share stories via various social networks or email. We couldn’t help but shoot off a couple stories to friends because we found them so interesting.
In actuality this is essentially a reader app that only handles stories from NASA, which makes it sound like a downloadable advertisement for NASA. But the visuals that accompany the article and the information provided make it hard to resist checking out. For anyone with the smallest interest in space, scientific discovery, or just learning a bit more about the world around us, NASA Visualization Explorer is a unique tool from one of the best primary sources around. It might not be a trip to space, but it’s about as good as it gets without leaving your living room. If you’re looking for a better way to space out on iOS, this is a solid option.