Explore 3D Printing


3D Printing

Despite our limited abilities to travel to distant objects in outer space, astronomers, computer scientists, and others are developing techniques that nudge astronomy visualization forward from two-dimensional images to images that include time, and also, the third dimension in space. 3D modeling objects in our Universe offers a unique tool to understand scientific data. And while interacting with 3D data on a computer screen can be powerful, the ability to create a physical manifestation of the model - through 3D printing - can take things even farther. Print our free models, collected at


3D Printing an Exploded Star

Create a 3D model of Cassiopeia A, the 300-year old remains of a stellar explosion that blew a massive star apart, sending the stellar debris rushing into space at millions of miles per hour. Data of Cassiopeia A was captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and combined with infrared and visible light to make the first ever free 3D model of an exploded star.  Small prints around 3 in/7.62cm in size take about 2 hours to print, depending on the printer type.
Learn more about 3d printing a supernova.


Printable 3d Chandra Spacecraft

Create a 3d model of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra, which was launched by the Space Shuttle on July 23, 1999, is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Because X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must orbit above it, up to an altitude of 139,000 km (86,500 mi) in space.
Learn more about 3d printing the spacecraft.


NASA 3D Resources

From the Moon and Mars to a number of NASA spacecraft models, the NASA 3D archive has a large selection of free, printable 3D models for your MakerSpaces.
Learn more about NASA 3D resources.

Extended Reality (VR, AR, Hologram)

Astronomers are combining ingenious techniques with rich datasets from today’s most powerful telescopes – including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory -- to move from observing objects in two dimensions to investigating them in three. At the same time, the technology of virtual, augmented, and extended reality (VR, AR, and XR) platforms now allow users to immerse themselves and interact with digital environments in ways that were impossible just a short time ago. Explore our latest technological achievements with our free VR/AR apps for phones and personal VR devices

AR-Enhanced Phone App:
Reach Across the Stars: A Universe of Explorers

Virtually "meet" women who have blazed trails in space and related science fields in a new augmented reality-enhanced app released through a collaboration between the Smithsonian and NASA.The project is a free app that can be used on most AR-compatible tablets and smart phones. In some of the app’s journeys, current scientists take viewers into their work environment, recalling favorite career moments as well as challenges and obstacles. Some of the feature stories combine audio interviews, video, 3D environments and 360-degree virtual reality content. Users can explore, for example, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with astronaut Cady Coleman, tour the Crab Nebula pulsar with astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Mars 2020 rover with Christina Hernandez, an instrument engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Contact Us
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. This site was developed with funding from NASA under contract NAS8-03060   |   Privacy  |  Accessibility