Developer: Scientific American
iOS Version: 4.0+
Retina Display: No
Journey To The Exoplanets
Learn about the planets beyond our solar system, bringing them closer than ever
Apps aimed at star-gazers are not a new idea. However, Journey To The Exoplanets invites us to venture further into space, and become part of the ongoing discovery of those planets and stars beyond our solar system.
The main dashboard is evidence enough of the developers’ aim to create a feeling of exploration and adventure when using Exoplanets, placing you in the cockpit of your own spacecraft, which appears on the menu tab as Mission Control to add to the excitement. From here, things become a little more serious, as first you have a video introduction from the Editor-In-Chief of Scientific American Magazine, Mariette DiChristina, before you begin to move through the sections of the app. While it is possible to go in any direction in terms of which sections you visit and when, there does appear to be a structure to follow; working your way from left to right along the menu tab at the top of the screen.
This route sees you deal with the history of space discovery, before moving onto definitions of planets and stars and how their discoveries are categorised, all of which gets you in the mindset of an astronomer, and become a part of the ongoing discussion regarding exoplanets. Without doubt the most eye-catching and engaging section of this app is the gallery, which is full of illustrations of different types of planet, and what their surfaces might look like if we were ever to set foot there.
To make this experience feel more authentic, the developers have utilised the power of the iPad by enabling an auto-pan feature on some of the images, meaning that you can scan in different directions by moving that way with your iPad. This section breaks up the tempo of the app nicely, as while there are some incredible images, it can also be very word-heavy, and potentially a little overwhelming for some. However, this change of pace really brings the app to life, which continues into the Planet Builder section, where you have the chance to create your own exoplanet. Using the scroll bar options, you can alter the size and age of your planet, as well as determine the distance it lies from its star/sun. Moving each of the bars has a different effect on your world, making it more or less habitable and changing the geology and temperature. Each movement comes with an explanation, so this fun exercise also serves as a good learning curve for younger users.
Also aimed at the younger downloaders is the ‘Little Scientist’ section, which encourages users to undertake their own experiments that involve weighing air and working with gravity, among other things. This adds to the feeling that this app is meant as an educational resource, and the inclusion of commentaries from scientists and experts on the cosmos suggest that the developers themselves felt this. But everyone can get something out of this app, as well as some good entertainment.
Overflowing with educational content and images, this app stands out.
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