The mosaic (left) and geographic (right) maps of Jupiter's moon, Ganymede. Image courtesy of NASA.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, we love space here at Stardock.
While the premises for our games tend to be fictional, we do our best in many cases to try and adhere to real-world science, and that includes referencing and showcasing planets that actually exist in our solar system.
In Star Control: Origins, for example, you start in our solar system. All of the planets in Sol are represented, as are many of the major moons - like Jupiter’s Ganymede, for instance. In Offworld Trading Company, we send you to Jupiter's frozen moon, Io, which isn’t so unlike Ganymede in its geography.
Scientists are constantly working to understand what’s out there among the stars - in our solar system, and beyond. We’ve learned so much from things like the Mars Rover expeditions and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and there’s always going to be room to learn more. Recently, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published a 50-second audio track of Ganymede, marking the first such recording from Jupiter’s moon that’s been shared from their Juno probe.
Data for the recording was gathered by Juno’s Waves instrument, which measures electric and magnetic waves produced in Jupiter’s magnetosphere. In order to put the recording into an audio range that we could hear, NASA shifted the frequency of the collected emissions in order to make the track.
It sounds pretty wild, honestly - I got some chills when I listened! Space is seriously cool, y’all. The purpose of the Juno mission, which launched in 2011, is to advance our understanding of how giant planets form and the role they played in the creation of the solar system.
Juno’s flyby of Ganymede occurred on its 34th trip around Jupiter and was the closest a spacecraft has ever gotten to the Solar System’s largest moon, which is bigger than planet Mercury, since the Galileo spacecraft’s approach in 2000. Juno managed to get within 645 miles of Ganymede’s surface while traveling at a velocity of 41,600 minutes (wow!).
It’s always fascinating to me to see these incredible scientific discoveries unfold, and even more interesting for me to see how we - and many other space-oriented games - incorporate these types of discoveries into our flavor text and gameplay. Offworld Trading Company in particular spent a great deal of effort learning about the geography of Mars - even consulting with a planetary geologist! - in order to bring that immersion into the gameplay.
What are some of your favorite instances of real-world science and discovery popping up into your fiction? Share with me!