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NASA iPhone app full of surprises for space geeks

The new, free app provides pictures, video, Twitter feeds, countdown clocks, and a wealth of other information for fans of NASA.

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for iPhone.

OK, that's probably a little overly dramatic, but the new NASA iPhone app, which was released Friday, is pretty cool.

With NASA's iPhone app, space geeks can access all kinds of information about their favorite missions. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Designed to provide information, updates, and images on all current and scheduled NASA missions, the app--which can be found in Apple's App Store under the name "NASA app for iPhone--nicely allows you to search for any specific mission, say, Constellation, and then find information and images just for that project.

"Users can access NASA countdown clocks, the NASA Image of the Day, Astronomy Image of the Day, online videos, NASA's many Twitter feeds," and more, the space agency said in a press release about the app. It also allows users to track where the International Space Station is at any moment, as well as other spacecraft orbiting the planet, in three different views: maps with labels and borders, available visible imagery of satellites, and satellite positions overlaid on maps with country labels and borders.

Already, NASA nuts--you know who you are--have had access to much of this information online. But now, having it all available in a free iPhone app is going to keep these people happily staring down at the screen of their devices no matter where they are.

And for NASA, anything it can do to get more people excited about its various missions and projects is a good thing as it struggles for public resources and attention in an era where the economy is in trouble and people are increasingly distracted by other things.