Elias Pelcastre

Explore Mars on your iPad, Android, Mac or PC with this NASA website

You don’t need a special app to explore Mars on a mobile device or a computer. All you have to do is try NASA’s “Mars Trek” website on your browser.

Mars Trek is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets, and Mac and PC computers.

On the top right corner of the screen you will find a nomenclature search bar and a help button to take the interactive tour, as well as the system recommendation (Mars Trek requires Chrome 18, Mozilla Firefox 4.0 or Safari 8). Mars Trek also displays useful information about Spirit, the Mars exploration rover, and a 2D map view of Mars’ North and South Pole.

Tap on a name on the surface of Mars to get several info tidbits, like the diameter, longitude, ethnicity and type. Mars Trek links to a separate website to provide additional and educational information.

I tried Mars Trek on every platform to see if there are any notable differences. My first choice was an iPad Air 2 – Mars Trek takes a minute to load and offers a user-friendly tutorial.

The website is more responsive on an iPad than on an iPhone 6 Plus – the latter takes longer to display the planet’s surface. Surprisingly, Chrome on the Moto G 2013 handled the graphics quickly enough to make me stay and explore the planet’s surface.

I would have to say a computer is the best device to see the celestial body. The desktop version of Mars Trek supports a 3D view and a full-screen visualization option.

Mars Trek offers different tools to calculate sun angles and the distance from one point to another, and files to print with a 3D printer.

NASA’s website may look simple but gives you an alternative to explore Mars in a fun and informative way. Did you try Mars Trek? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.