The U.S. space agency orbits a virtual world:

NASA's virtual spaceflight in Second Life

NASA JPL Explorer Island entrance
NASA JPL Explorer Island entrance in the virtual world Second Life
Through its Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California, and other NASA centers, the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration is opening the door for everyone to participate in the agency's vision for space exploration via the new technology of virtual life in cyberspace.

Virtual Worlds and Space Exploration. Population of the virtual world Second Life has grown rapidly in recent years to many millions of residents.

NASA is using the virtual world to bring lots of people into the agency's general mission, letting them participate in the day-to-day work and successes of the U.S. space agency.

NASA has established several islands in Second Life. ARC's CoLab and JPL's Explorer Island are the two main public entrance points.

Through them the agency works with any person who is interested in learning more about NASA and even participating in a NASA missions through exploration in the virtual world.

Different approaches. Both are in Second Life and, therefore, are immersive, 3D virtual reality environments: Like it's larger and better known relative, the adult Second Life grid, the Teen Second Life simulation is a virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents aged 13-17. Residents of the adult world are 18 and older.

This machinima titled NASA CoLab's Second Life Mission features video of the NASA virtual world simulations of ARC's CoLab, JPL's Explorer Island, the independent International Spaceflight Museum, and Mars Victoria Crater.

time: 4:21

The YouTube video URL is:

More information is available at:

SLURL is short for Second Life URL, the web address for a place in Second Life.
ARC CoLab:
JPL Explorer Island:
International Spaceflight Museum Spaceport Alpha:
International Spaceflight Museum Spaceport Bravo:

The Second Life 3D virtual-reality service is provided on the Internet by Linden Lab of San Francisco.

CoLab space station 512 x 358
CoLab's future space station simulation in orbit above the NASA island in the virtual world Second Life.
CoLab HQ 512 x 358
CoLab's headquarters on the island in the virtual world Second Life.
More photos of NASA Ames CoLab in the virtual world Second Life »
More photos of NASA JPL Explorer Island in the virtual world Second Life
What is a virtual world?

A virtual world is a computer-simulated environment inhabited by users who interact through their on-screen avatars.

Social life in the virtual world is depicted by multiple users appearing together in three-dimensional graphical scenes.

The world being simulated has real-world physical characteristics such as gravity, topography, locomotion, real-time actions, and communication.

What is Second Life?

SL was developed by Linden Research Inc. (a.k.a. Linden Lab) and came to life on the Internet in 2003. Teen Second Life opened in 2005.

Since opening to the public in 2003, Second Life has grown explosively. It had 180,000 residents by April 2006. By October 2007 it was inhabited by more than 10 million people from around the real world. In March 2008, Second Life was the best known virtual-reality world with about 13 million residents.
population statistics »

Second Life is a 3D virtual reality world entirely built and owned by its residents, which are referred to as avatars. Members use their avatars, or alternate personas, to participate actively in the creation of media. Basic membership is free although there is an advanced level called premium.

Second Life is not a game. It doesn't have points, scores, winners, losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. Instead, it is a semi-structured virtual environment where characters undertake social, cultural, political and economic activities for personal enjoyment, fulfillment or financial gain. Some visit Second Life to escape from RL – their real world – and have fun exploring and social internetworking, while others view Second Life as useful for education and for-profit businesses.

Second Life is a community with businesses, entertainment and education.

A downloadable Second Life viewer (browser) enables residents to interact with each other through their on-screen representatives, the avatars, providing an extraordinarily advanced level of social networking combined with general aspects of a metaverse.

A metaverse is an immersive 3D virtual space – a cyberspace environment where humans interact socially and economically with each other's avatars.

Adult residents of Second Life age 18 and up are limited to their vast main grid and teen residents 13-17 to their smaller teen grid. There is no Second Life grid for persons under 13.


SciLands is a community on an archipelago of islands on the SL adult main grid devoted to science and technology. More than 20 science and technology organizations have facilities in the SciLands, including government agencies, universities and museums.

For example, the International Spaceflight Museum in SciLands displays many rockets at its Spaceport Alpha and Spaceport Beta. SciLands islands are owned and built by science and technology organizations that share resources and infrastructure. The islands bear names such as Exploratorium, Genome, and Nanotechnology. The NASA Ames and JPL facilities are there. NOAA's Meteora, Okeanos, Thetis and Second Earth are located in SciLands.

Others are the National Space Society, the Mars Institute, Space Studies Institute, Space Frontier, the Exploratorium and its SploLand, University of Denver Science School, Northern Michigan University BIOME, Loughborough University, Elon University, the National Library of Medicine, the Tech Museum of Innovation, NPR's Science Friday, the National Physical Laboratory for Nanotechnology, UK FutureFocus, Texas Wesleyan University genome project, Spindrift, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Imperial College of London with its National Health Service, Polyclinic, HealthLands, and UK Virtual Hospital.

Learn more about NASA and Second Life:

Virtual Worlds
Second Life
Teen Second Life Linden Lab
U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
SciLands The International Spaceflight Museum