The following list is focused on iOS (iPad/iPhone) devices only because I don’t have direct experience with modern non-iOS mobile devices. For space/science app recommendations for any other platform, visit Spacevidcast.com’s mobile applications list.
Let’s start with the free stuff, shall we? These free apps actually rival some of the commercial apps I have run across.
- NASA App / NASA App HD for iPad – NASA’s official app; LOTS to see here on all of NASA’s missions and projects, not just human spaceflight. Includes streaming, live NASA TV
- AstroApp: Space Shuttle Crew – Official NASA app celebrating the 30 year Space Shuttle program.
- NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover (LER) Simulator – Drive a simulated rover on the surface of the moon? Yes, “there’s an app for that!” Thanks to a NASA Tweetup at Johnson Space Center, I got to see the LER (actually now called the SEV, Space Exploration Vehicle) up close and personal. Driving it in this sim is almost as much fun!
- Planets – Great interactive globes of each planet as well as information on planetary viewing.
- 3D Sun – jaw-dropping photos, videos & info about the Sun, with real-time alerts of sun activity!
- Moon Globe – fully interactive virtual globe of Earth’s Moon
- Galaxy Zoo – mobile version of GalaxyZoo.com, a crowdsourced project in which members of the public help classify millions of galaxies found in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
- HubbleSite – official NASA app for the Hubble Space Telescope
- Exoplanet – daily updated database of all discovered extrasolar planets (Last count: 490!)
- Mars Globe – fully interactive virtual globe of the planet Mars
- NASA Space Weather Media Viewer – space weather phenomena tracking and visualizations
As a space and science enthusiast, I admit I don’t need much justification to buy yet another app in this genre. That said, I am only recommending my favorite commercial apps in the following section.
Listed prices are as of Dec. 30, 2010
- MissionClock ($4.99)- comprehensive, real-time launch & mission timeline tracking of crewed missions (Space Shuttle & Soyuz) and unmanned flights (Progress ISS resupply; military, weather and communication satellites, etc.) Must have!
- Buzz Aldrin ($1.99) / Buzz Aldrin HD for iPad ($3.99) – comprehensive news & information portal; streaming, live NASA TV
- SpaceGeek($0.99) – NASA images of the day, news, tweets & videos; includes streaming, live NASA TV
- Satellite Flybys ($2.99) – a simple, economical satellite flyby app for determining viewing opportunities of the ISS, Space Shuttle, satellites, X-37B when it was in orbit, etc.
- GoSatWatch ($9.99) – an expensive, but comprehensive satellite flyby app. I held off on purchasing this one until I bought new binoculars and have started to get serious about viewing more than “just” ISS passes. Plus, it’s pretty awesome to have a “mini-Mission Control Center” real-time updating map on your phone!
- Pocket Universe ($2.99) – full-featured astronomy app. Very well done, but if you can get only one, get StarWalk.
- StarWalk ($2.99) / StarWalk for iPad ($4.99) – arguably the “gold standard” astronomy app and especially beautiful on the iPad.
- VisiMoon ($2.99) – useful to amateur astronomers, as well as outdoors enthusiasts & photographers. Moonrise/set and phase information by date and location. A little pricey for what it does, though.
- Mars Globe HD ($0.99) – fully interactive virtual globe of the planet Mars.
- Space Wx ($1.99) – puts the latest space weather data & imagery at your fingertips; app created by the Utah State University Space Weather Center
If I have omitted a truly great free or commercial iOS app, please share it in the comments! I know there’s got to be some amazing ones I haven’t tried yet. For example, SkySafari($14.99) looks really tempting!
Also, if you have another device, don’t be shy — some of us won’t be on iPhones forever, after all. ;-)