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NASA performs a mind-meld with Angry Birds Space

Space agency partners with game-maker Rovio to sprinkle Beak Impact update with real space facts and information.

Angry Birds Space Mighty Buzzard
Buzz Aldrin gets a tribute bird. Rovio

As many a PBS kids show has taught us (I'm looking at you "Square One" and "Bill Nye the Science Guy"), learning goes down easier when you have some entertainment involved. This concept has given us the somewhat unlikely pairing of Rovio, the creator of the Angry Birds games, and NASA, our extremely hip national space agency.

Rovio has just unveiled a fresh update to Angry Birds Space. Beak Impact includes 40 new levels, but it also includes some NASA tie-ins. This time, the pissed-off birds are heading out to try to foil the pigs' attempts at mining asteroids. NASA is already working on a slew of asteroid-focused missions, including lassoing one of the rocks in order to study it.

The new Angry Birds Space levels have various NASA spacecraft hidden in them. As you play, you can look for Deep Impact, the Orion Crew Vehicle, Dawn, and OSIRIS-REx. These craft then link to more information on the NASA projects they're connected to. It's like a mini NASA treasure hunt.

There's even a special Buzz Aldrin bird, called the Mighty Buzzard. The Buzz-bird is akin to the Mighty Eagle character. He's a powerful addition to your anti-pigs-in-space arsenal of destruction. If you squint, you can sort of see the resemblance to the real person.

NASA is hoping the game will help the agency inform the public about its Asteroid Initiative, which is chock full of fascinating work like dunking astronauts into water tanks and considering slamming an asteroid into the moon. Angry Birds Space just might lure some new gamers into NASA's orbit.

NASA craft in Angry Birds space
Clicking on a spacecraft teaches you about NASA projects. Rovio