This week’s selection is the Solar System Mini Set by AstroReality.
This commercially available product is a set of nine 3D printed spheres representing the planets of our solar system. Each is 3D printed with a full color surface texture representing an accurate view of what you might see, with some allowance for visual aesthetics.
One change is that the Venus print uses a texture of the cloudy planet’s surface, rather than its actual view. Venus has tens of kilometers of thick, poisonous atmosphere obscuring its surface. It actually looks like this, in an image I captured last year:
But some years ago probes used radar to penetrate the clouds and discover the “hard” surface hidden below. This is the texture used in the Solar System Mini Set, with an imagined color scheme.
Saturn’s rings are not present, but in a way they are. The set comes with an app that provides a augmented reality view of the planet. You simply point your phone at the planet print and the app will superimpose it on a scene proportional to an actual view from a simulated distance. In this way the app shows Saturn’s spectacular rings, among other details.
One question that’s bothering me is that the set of “Planets” includes nine prints. One for each official planet – and Pluto. Pluto is officially not a planet due to the recent realization there are dozens or even hundreds of similar bodies in the outer solar system, all of which would have to be termed as “Planets”.
A “full” solar system kit would therefore be a bit larger than this set of nine! But for packaging purposes a 3 x 3 box is quite nice.
Nevertheless, Pluto is a fascinating object in real life, as well as its 3D printed representation in the Solar System Mini Set.
It’s not clear what 3D printing process was used to create the Solar System Mini Set, but I suspect it was either 3D Systems’ ProJet technology or Stratasys’ J750 equipment. Either way, the results are amazing.
AstroReality sells the Solar System Mini Set at a price of US$179, which includes a nice case and the app mentioned previously.