The far side of the Moon and the Mars Voyager are among the collection of 22 celestial objects available
NASA scientists spent 11,000 work years on the Voyager’s flight to Neptune, but you can now build your own version of the space craft in minutes. Just download the free files from NASA and send them to a 3D printer to build your own space craft, probe, asteroid or planetary landscape.
The collection includes European and NASA spacecraft and probes such as Mars Odyssey which studies the red planet’s environment and Stardust which collects samples from comets.
You can also get to grips with the surface of planets, by printing Mars’ Gale Crater or the near side and the far side of the Earth’s Moon.
The website explains, “The near side is smoother due to large lava flows that filled in many craters billions of years ago”.
At 8cm across, your model will be 5 million times smaller than the 400km sample area of the planet, so it will be a lot easier to fit into your house.
You can also get your hands on asteroids, such as Block Island which is an iron-nickel meteorite from the surface of Mars or the Itokawa, which was discovered on Japan’s Hayabusa mission in 2000.
The models are part of NASA’s program of education and outreach, which goes all the way back to 1958 and now includes information and videos online. For example, children can build their own space mission, test their skills as mission controller on the Voyager and learn about Space with Buzz Lightyear.
The models were created by Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center, Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace and Caltech. The team are currently working on more.
The files are .stl-formatted, around 4 inches in length at their largest and designed to be printed with plastic filaments. NASA welcomes feedback on the models, conceding that 3D printing is often “trial and error.”
These models are sure to make Space education more engaging for students, looking at a picture of the surface of the Moon isn’t nearly as fun as being able to hold it in your hands. They could also let anyone who is interested in the Cosmos learn more about it in 3D.
By making these models available for free, NASA has bought space travel down to earth and made it available to the masses. Just watch out for asteroids jamming your printer.