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Arizona State University looks to bring solar system closer to home

(Courtesy photo: Arizona State University)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University is hoping to make the solar system more interactive, thanks to a $10 million grant from NASA.

The university is using the grant for a five-year project to create an Internet platform featuring virtual tours of planets, moons and asteroids.

Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, said the project will first be geared toward museums and libraries before being implemented into classrooms.

The first virtual tour will be of Mars, but Elkins-Tanton said the plan is to add more as the program continues.

“There’s a lot of interest in talking about the moons Enceladus and Europa,” she said. “These are icy moons where we all think that there might be a very good chance of finding life.”

Elkins-Tanton said the goal is to make the solar system more interesting for everyone while at the same time encouraging them to ask questions.

“It will be part of their lives, part of their nature to ask questions and explore, rather than just to try to learn facts or look at things,” she said. “We want people to be actively inquiring while they’re learning new things.”

The free Internet content will be available to anyone who wants to learn more about the solar system in an interactive way, Elkins-Tanton said.

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