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Virtue Arts, a Los Angeles-based software developer, has used NASA data on the topology and physics of the moon to build a 3D application that lets kids and adults explore the lunar surface. The software, called Lunar Explorer, works with standard PCs and lets users gaze at the galaxy, walk around the surface of the moon, and study rocks that are actually there. Lunar Explorer will be released this month and will cost $39.95.
Virtue Arts’ Lunar Explorer software also depicts objects that were left by NASA astronauts on real missions from the ’80s and ’90s, thanks to data from the space agency. Point a cursor over an object like the satellite shown here, and the software will educate users on how and when it got there.
Virtue Arts, through its content company VirtuePlay, also has created a lunar buggy game, called Lunar Racing Championship, which is expected to be released next June. The buggy is much like a spacecraft, according to Virtue Arts’ chief technology officer, because it must work within the physics of the moon to operate. It has rocket boosters and a reaction control system, which is typically found on spacecraft, to stabilize itself in the event of spinning out of control.
Lunar Racing Championship, which will sell for $49.95 next June, is a networked application so that two kids can race each other from two different PCs. The application can run on a standard consumer-grade PC with a graphics accelerator.