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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 13:17

NASA lets you simulate space navigation, communication

The U.S. space agency NASA has announced an interactive computer simulation involving navigation and communications that allows users to dock the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station, take a trip to Mars or the Moon, and communicate with one of the rovers on Mars.

The NASA media brief 'NASA launches interactive simulation of satellite communications' announced that on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ''¦ unveiled an interactive computer simulation that allows virtual explorers of all ages to dock the space shuttle at the International Space Station, experience a virtual trip to Mars or a lunar impact, and explore images of star formations taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.'

The online computer simulation developed by NASA is called Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) simulation.

It is based on the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program that coordinates three NASA space communications networks, Space Network (SN), Near Earth Network (NEN), and the Deep Space Network (DSN).

The SCaN simulation allows users to simulate a communications network while using one of nine spacecraft.

These include the Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station, Space Shuttle Orbiter, and Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

It also includes Cassini, LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite), and Aura (Earth Observation Satellite [EOS] CH-1).

Page two continues with more information on the SCaN simulation by NASAS.

For instance, Aura is a research satellite in orbit around the Earth that is studying its ozone layer, air quality, and climate.

The SCaN simulation provides a virtual three-dimensional (3D) experience to the real activity that is experience in real-time by NASA scientists, engineers, and communication and navigation experts when they use Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) network.

In fact, Barbara Adde, a policy and strategic communications manager for the Office of Space Communications and Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., stated, "The elaborate space communications networks that connect scientists and engineers with NASA's spacecraft is essential to all of NASA's missions and can be a challenging concept to comprehend. This simulation helps explain this complex infrastructure in an engaging way by using an interactive 3-D game."

In one scenario, users communicate with the Spirit and Opportunity, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) that are exploring the planet Mars.

You are able to communicate with Spirit and Opportunity by using the Madrid Deep Space Network antenna, here on Earth in Madrid, Spain, to send data to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which is orbiting around Mars, which then sends the data to one of the rovers on the Martian surface.

Chris C. Kemp, the chief information officer at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, states, "Making this interactive simulation available to young people is important and may lead them to consider a career in engineering, science or information technology as it relates to space. NASA is embracing the fact that programs like this help convey NASA's message to people who respond well to virtual and online learning environments."

Page three shows you were to go on the Web to find the SCaN simulation by NASA.

To use the Space Communication and Navigation network simulation, go to NASA SCaN Simulation.

The website states that it is compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms.

For more information about the Space Communications and Navigation network, visit: NASA Space Comm.

The website states, "Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) coordinates multiple space communications networks as well as network support functions to regulate, maintain, and grow NASA's space communications and navigation capabilities, in support of all NASA's space missions"


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