Understanding Microgravity with Angry Birds

by / Tuesday, 13 March 2012 / Published in Blog - Space Log

Video games are a fun way to pass the time, but did you know there’s one game in particular that is helping astronauts explain the mystery of science?


NASA astronaut Don Pettit is the guy and would you believe the game is called Angry Birds Space?


NASA has been working with Rovio Entertainment, the company that brought us the Angry Birds franchise, to create Angry Birds Space. The idea behind this new game is to share the wonders of space to educate gamers.


The game illustrates different aspects of space exploration, including gravity and trajectories. Here at Janet’s Planet, we know that the nature of gravity was first described by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago. Gravity is the attraction between any two masses. If we drop an apple here on the surface of Earth, it falls to the ground. If you were an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) and you dropped an apple, it would still fall, but it just doesn’t look like the same type of falling.


This is because when you drop an apple on the ISS, everything is falling together. The apple, the astronaut and the ISS are all falling around Earth, at the same rate. The objects all appear to float in this state called ‘zero gravity’ or microgravity.


Angry Birds Space helps to show how microgravity works. On the International Space Station, NASA scientists study microgravity and how it affects different scientific processes versus how they happen on Earth. One important thing the scientists are studying is the effects of microgravity on the human body.


With plans for the future to send humans to asteroids and Mars, this will mean being in space for a long time. Studying how microgravity affects our health on the space station will help scientists be better prepared for those long-term space journeys to come.


Have you played Angry Birds? Maybe you’d like to try Angry Birds Space! We’d love to hear what you think about the game and if it’s as fun and educational as the astronauts claim it is.


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