Create your own solar system

Project Proxima, the hypothetical voyage from Leeds to Proxima Centauri, launches in two weeks today, so we will celebrate with some more space-related posts.

Here we look at solar system simulators.  

As you might expect from PhET, this simulator is pretty good.  You can choose from a number of preset conditions including binary stars with planets, slingshots, ellipses etc.  Plenty of fun can be had by changing the mass, position and velocity of the preset conditions, or just play God and make your own.

The 'Slingshot' chosen from one of many presets.

Solar System Builder
A nice and simple solar system simulator.  Create planet trajectories by clicking and dragging.  Feel the need to hurl Jupiter at the inner solar system to see what happens - no problem!

Pick up Jupiter and hurl it at the inner solar system.

Planet Families
Planet Families from the Space Science Institute is a sandbox universe for you to simply drop your planets in an watch it go.  Planetary collisions are accompanied by satisfactory sound effects.

Drag, drop then watch them crash and burn.  Good stuff.

Solar System Builder - Building the Known Universe
This Solar System Builder from The National geographic is as good as they come.  One nice feature is the ability to set the camera to follow any one of your solar system objects.

Fully customised planet construction.

Solar System Maker
The solar system maker is suitable for children aged 8 to 11.  It does not quite have the same sophistication with regards to its Physics, however fun can be had by designing and printing your own solar system.

Create new planets to your own design and given them a name.

Solar System builder in Scratch
Here is a solar system simulator built using the excellent MIT Scratch.
Solar systems built in Scratch

I hope you enjoyed these solar system simulators.  If you did, then you might like to follow Project Proxima:

From Leeds to Proxima Centauri

Project Proxima is a hypothetical voyage to our nearest stellar neighbour - Proxima Centauri.  The spacecraft, Proxima, can travel at the speed of light and is set to launch in 16 days (on the 1st May 2015).  #ProjectProxima #Science #Space

Followers can track the progress of Proxima's four year voyage on the website and through Proxima's Twitter page @proximaspace.  You can sign-up to become a registered follower to get your name on the website, and receive news via email.

Proxima will travel at the speed of light from Earth to Proxima Centauri taking it on a path that first visits the inner solar system and the sun. It will then continue through the solar system until it is far beyond the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud, the depths of interstellar space and then finally, in four years time, it will reach Proxima Centauri (in 2019).