Exploring the Planets CD-ROM

Need a guided tour of the moon? What about one of Jupiter's moons? A comet? What? A tour won't suffice? Do you need its history or data? What about our attempts at exploring it? This digital encyclopedia of sorts is a great place to start. Loaded with tons of pictures and numerous narrated video clips, Exploring the Planets is a valuable educational tool available at your fingertips.

Due to the large amount of information--especially the pictures which can be expanded to 640x480 when they aren't that size to begin with--six CDs are necessary for the entire program. This makes things a bit cumbersome if you want to jump around in the program as you will constantly be required to change discs. If you stick with topics that are relatively close to each other in the index, this problem is rare. Another potential drawback to the program is that the images aren't "downloadable"--nor can the text be copied. These aspects will make things less user friendly for kids, for instance, who are doing reports. Excerpts can, of course, be manually copied by running the program in a different window from your word processor. And images can probably still be captured through the use of a separate screen capturing program.

Space missions such as Galileo, Magellan, Mars Pathfinder, Viking, and many others are included. Also part of the package are details and pictures about past and future spacecraft including Mars Airplane, Jupiter Balloon, Voyager, Titan Rover, and others. A search feature would be nice so that you could go to all text, pictures, and video in the software that mention say "Mars", but getting to the places would again be slow with all the disc swapping. The glossary included is decent, but doesn't hyperlink in any way to the pictures and video included which are being described.

Overall, it's a nice package with some good features to go along with its minor drawbacks.

from the publisher:
From the publisher of RedShift 4, Exploring the Planets is a multimedia adventure in our Solar System - the sands of Mars and the rings of Saturn are only a mouse click away! Created by a team of leading space-age veterans, Exploring the Planets shares the excitement and wonder of exploration and discovery through cutting-edge computer graphics, in-depth scientific presentations, dazzling artwork, video animation, wonderful music, and voice-over narration. Unmatched in its depth, diversity, and technical detail Exploring the Planets is a uniquely entertaining and educational guide to four decades of planetary exploration and scientific discovery providing months of enjoyment and learning.

Exploring the Planets is presented in three main sections:

  • The Solar System Handbook - Includes an interactive guide to over 40 planetary bodies; hundreds of spacecraft images and scientifically-informed artists' renderings of planetary landscapes; informative text detailing the histories of major bodies; animations and diagrams illustrating phenomena from planetary ring systems to impact cratering.
  • Spacecraft Catalog - Diagrams of historic and near future spacecraft; explanations of engineering details; descriptions of instruments and procedures used to gather data and operate spacecraft.
  • Planetary Missions (past, present & future) - Multimedia histories of historic planetary missions; simulated future missions to Mars, Jupiter, and other planetary objects; interactive animations of near-future missions.

    Key Features:

  • Six CD-ROM set with custom CD case
  • Exclusive video sessions with Arthur C. Clarke
  • Guide to worlds of our Solar System
  • Guided tours of planets and major moons
  • Historic and future planetary missions
  • Dazzling graphics and animations
  • Scientific and engineering data and diagrams