NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope concludes its 16+ year mission on January 30th, 2020. In recognition of its incredible scientific achievements the “Exoplanet Excursions” VR experience has been updated to include new modules describing the telescope that has enabled so much exoplanet research and discovery.
The new Spitzer VR modules include a narrated tour of the telescope and an all-new interactive experience where you learn to control the telescope, learn how it observes the sky from its unique vantage point in space, and collect data on a selection of objects that Spitzer has observed over the years.
The initial release supports Oculus Rift but will be released for HTC Vive in the coming months. YouTube 360 versions of both narrated tours are available.
These modules have been added to the existing guided journey through the amazing TRAPPIST-1 star system, known to be the home of 7 Earth-size exoplanets orbiting a star that is only a little larger than Jupiter. This experience is based on the best current understanding of what these worlds could be like given their sizes, densities, and proximity to their star. While the planetary images are artistic extrapolations, the relative sizes and positions are all portrayed accurately. Spitzer, along with a number of other observatories on Earth and in Space, played a key role in discovering and characterizing the exoplanets of the TRAPPIST-1 system.
This experience was developed by the IPAC Communications & Education group and was initially released in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope mission. The new modules have been developed as part of the Spitzer Final Voyage celebration. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech.