Explore the surface of Mars with NASA's Mars Trek interactive modeling tool
NASA has released a series of 3D modeling tools designed to help students and space enthusiasts visualize -- and even 3D print -- explore their favorite locations and space vehicles.
In addition to 3D-printer ready models, they have included interactive 'Visualizations' of several sites: Mars, Vesta (one of the largest asteroids in the solar system) and the outer planets.
There is even an interactive 'walk-through' of the International Space Station.
Using standard keyboard gaming controls, you can take a tour for yourself.
Our favorite -- if you haven't guessed yet -- is 'Mars Trek'.
Using data gathered from multiple NASA Mars missions, the app provides all sorts of views of Mars. Zoom in and see historic places like the Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover landed.
Or take a tour along the path of 'The Martian' -- the route Mark Watney took from Acidalia Planitia to Schiaperelli Crater.
You could even zoom in on some of our favorite locations like the ones we outlined in our Mars 2016 Travel Guide.
And -- if you are really serious -- you can download print-ready models and 3D print your very own martian landscape.Using provides an exciting way for students, citizen scientists, and the public to explore some of Mars' most spectacular landforms as well as NASA areas of operation on Mars' surface. Data gathered from multiple instruments aboard multiple NASA Mars missions provide diverse views for Mars Trek's user-friendly set of tools including interactive maps, 3-D printer-exportable topography, and standard keyboard gaming controls for flying high or low above Mars' surface.
The entire site is under Beta release right now, so expect things to change. But -- for those of us who can't actually make it to Mars yet -- it looks to be a great way to explore.
Check it out at: