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NASA launches an addictive and new — actually retro — game for you

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope as depicted in a still image from a spacecraft animation. (NASA)

Decades ago, “Space Invaders” helped a generation fall in love with computers and gaming.

Now, NASA has launched a retro “8-bit” space game of its own.

It might seem a bit belated, but the agency’s launch of “Roman Space Observer” now has a purpose: promoting its Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope through a bit of retro fun.

The game gives players one minute to “catch” as many space objects as possible. Old-school music plays as galaxies, rogue exoplanets and even black holes fly by. Players get points for capturing objects and can learn more about what they’ve caught after the minute is up.

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Finite and fun, the game was developed to teach players about cosmic objects and the telescope, which is scheduled to launch in the middle of the decade.

Named after pioneering NASA executive Nancy Roman, known as the “Mother of Hubble” for helping the agency birth the legendary Hubble Space Telescope, the new observatory will dramatically expand researchers’ ability to see and study the cosmos. Roman was a formidable astronomer, and the observatory that bears her name will investigate mysteries such as what’s causing the universe to expand and which planets exist beyond our solar system.

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The Roman Space Telescope will be Hubble’s “wide-eyed cousin,” the agency says, capturing 100 times as much sky as the 1990 telescope with the help of massive, 300-megapixel instrumentation.

The new observatory will capture wide-field images of space and map and measure the universe using a variety of cutting-edge techniques.

Compared with the mission it promotes, the 8-bit game is simple indeed. But sometimes a bit of easy fun is all it takes to get people interested in science — and excited about an upcoming mission.

Ready to catch space objects? Head to