AMS Spring 2023

NASA releases 3D Printable Models of Asteroids, Moon Surfaces, Spacecraft & More

Inkbit

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nasa-3d-2When it comes to 3D printing, NASA certainly doesn’t want to be left out in the cold. A couple months ago, we learned that NASA was teaming with MakerBot to launch a ‘Mars Base Challenge‘. Then, a few weeks ago we reported that NASA had created the first full 3D model of Eta Carinae Nebula. Now, they are taking things a step further, with the release of 21 3D printable models via their website.

Some of the interesting models that have been made available include the asteroid Eros, Mars’ Gale Crater, NASA’s space observator, Kepler, as well as both the near and far sides of the Earth’s Moon. They all make for great 3D printing projects for anyone interested in learning about our galaxy.

The Near and Far Sides of the Moon

The Near and Far Sides of the Moon

These models are all available in STL format, and can be downloaded for free.  To make the printing process easier, NASA has even cut some of the rounded objects in half, to aid in their printing, without the need for support material.  While these are intended for 3D printing, NASA admits that some of them may need to be modified prior to sending them off to your 3D printer. A few of them may also be virtually impossible to 3D print due to the fact that they include some very small detailed pieces. For exampled, the LRO model probably wouldn’t be the best one to print out, unless you had a very accurate, high quality 3D printer. “This .stl file was produced by scaling the original model and converting it directly to .stl format,” explained NASA. “It may not yet be ideal for printing.”

LRO

LRO

Hopefully NASA will get their designers to modify these objects to make them too, compatible with most 3D printers.

The files have all been scaled to approximately 4 inches (100 mm) in the longest dimension.  Certainly more of NASA’s 3D models will eventually be converted over to STL files for printing, as this is just the beginning of what could become quite an amazing resource.

Being able to handle a tactile version of the Moon’s surface, or different asteroids, provides for a learning experience like none other. It should be interesting to see what objects are added to this repository of 3D printable files in the future.

Have you downloaded and printed any of these “space” objects yet? We’d love to see them. Post them and discuss in the 3D Printable NASA Models forum thread on 3DPB.com

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