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These Scientists Are Helping Blind People Experience the Majesty of Space

January 14, 2014
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These Scientists Are Helping Blind People Experience the Majesty of Space
Courtesy NASA
They're 3D-printing Hubble photos to help blind people perceive faraway galaxies.

The spectacular imagery of distant galaxies captured by the Hubble telescope can make you rethink the nature of the universe. So why shouldn’t blind people be able to experience them too? That’s what motivated two scientists, Carol Christian and Antonella Nota, to create 3D models of Hubble’s stellar data. Their first draft is a series of square panels with what look like topographical renderings of mountain ranges. In fact, the panels are richly textured physical descriptions of faraway star clusters. Dots and ridges indicate different substances, like filaments and dust, while the surface’s varying height is meant to indicate distance. “They would be able to spatially understand where important features are relative to everything else and what the structure is,” Christian and Nota told Gizmodo. They plan to make the CAD files, or 3D blueprints, available to the general public soon.

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