Play Nasa’s old-school arcade game based on the Nance Grace Roman Space Telescope

The first real images from the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope may be years away, but you can have retro-fun today.

<p>The Roman Observer game graphic banner</p>

The Roman Observer game graphic banner

Galaxies? Supernovae? Black holes? No problem: Just hit the spacebar and capture them all. They’re worth seven, 15, and 50 points each, respectively.

If only real space-based astronomical observations were as easy as Nasa’s new web browser-based Roman Observer, an 8-bit, old school arcade game in the spirit of Space Invaders, Centipede or Galaga, but based on the very real scientific targets of Nasa’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.

“This game is intended to entertain players across a wide variety of interests and skill sets, all while spreading the word of the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope and the fantastic science it will uncover,” a Nasa blog announcing the game read. “Our goal for this game is to inform and inspire players about the amazing cosmic objects in our universe and what Roman may be able to see in a fun and engaging way.”

You can play the game right now in your web browser with just arrow keys and the space bar.

Scheduled to launch in May 2027, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope shares closer kinship with the Hubble Space Telescope than with the newer James Webb Space Telescope. Roman will sport the same 2.4-metre sized primary mirror as Hubble — in Roman’s case, a mirror intended for use on a spy satellite and gifted to Nasa by the Department of Defense — facilitating an even wider field of view than either Hubble or Webb, covering 200 times as much sky in a single image.

Roman’s capabilities will make it an ideal instrument for hunting for exoplanets, signs of the enigmatic “dark energy,” otherwise invisible energy thought to make up about 70% of the cosmos. It will work synergistically with Webb, which can zoom in on exoplanets or other targets identified by Roman in the latter’s rapid, wide sweeps of the sky.

But while the Webb telescope will begin delivering images of the distant universe to the public later this summer, the curious will need to wait till near the end of the decade before Roman will come online.

In the meantime, they can do their best to beat the Nasa high scores for most celestial objects captured in one minute in Roman Observer. Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist John Mather scored 103, while scientific programmer Ryan Mersmann holds the high score record at 1205.

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