NASA announces the official opening of a new website, which enables users to design and build their own satellites, using predefined components provided by the game. Meant for both students and adults, the game can be found at this link.
One of the first options you are presented with is select the topic you are most interested in. You can choose between black holes, star formation, the early Universe, extrasolar planets and galaxies. Each of these menus then opens up new options.
You can also select between three levels of complexity for your projects. Some combinations of instruments do not go well together. For example, you cannot have both a segmented and a single primary mirror on the same spacecraft.
Entitled “Build It Yourself: Satellite!”, the new game is not assured to lead to you to a stable spacecraft configuration. It is up to you what configuration to adopt, and you may get a nifty message saying that your satellite is a mess, and that the selected instruments cannot work together.
The game was produced by experts at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
(GSFC), in Greenbelt, Maryland, and its primary role is to act as a learning tool for interested students and adults. It is recommended to start at Level 1, if you've never followed a telescope's instrument selection process.
“It's fun to play and users will learn something about satellite instrumentation and optics, and how they are used to make scientific discoveries, as well about a large range of different existing astronomical missions,” NASA GSFC webmaster Maggie Masetti says. She authored and created this game.
One of the most important aspects of the selection is figuring out the type of science you want your telescope or satellite to do, and then selecting the correct wavelengths at which relevant instruments will conduct their studies.
After the game checks that your configuration is correct, you will be presented with an existing telescope that covers about the same range of study types your selection does.
“This game requires having FLASH 9 or higher on a computer. It opens in a separate window or tab and requires a few seconds to load all of the graphics components,” NASA says.
“The game comes in two sizes, dependent upon the size of the user's monitor. For those with a slower computer, there is a special toggle button that will reduce the quality of the graphics and make the game run more quickly,” the agency concludes.