NASA has released 21 files that can be used by 3D printers to create models of satellites, probes, planetary formations -- even asteroids.
The files, which come in the STL (stereolithography) format, can be used to create models that are about 4 in. (100mm) in the longest dimension.
The files feature specs for models of, among other things, 15 NASA spacecraft -- including the Cassini Saturn orbiter, the Mars Odyssey orbiter and the Mars Voyager probe -- as well as Mars crater formations and the surface of the dark side of the moon.
One particularly fascinating offering is a topographic model of a portion of the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars. It was derived from data collected by the MOLA altimeter onboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
A set of two STL files demonstrate the differences between the near and far sides of Earth's Moon. "The near side is smoother due to large lava flows that filled in many craters billions of years ago," NASA explains on its website.
Printed at their default size (8cm across), the Moon models represent an area approximately 400km on a side at a scale of 5 million to 1 (1cm = 50km).
Another set of files allows users to print out models of the northern and southern hemispheres of the asteroid Vesta, which at 326 miles in diameter is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System.
Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.