The simulation visualizes the current position of all eight planets orbiting the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) as well as the Galilean Moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto).
Next to that you can see which planets rotate clockwise (retrograde rotation) as well as the fastest orbiting planet (Mercury).
Also, when you toggle the view of the simulation to "EARTH VIEW", you can learn how to locate the Sirius star, Andromeda Galaxy & Alpha Centauri in the night sky.
Next to that, our second tutorial explains how to build a JS SATURNIAN SYSTEM SIMULATOR.
The third tutorial explains how to GENERATE EPHEMERIS for the positions of the planets for observers on Earth.
PATHFINDER, OPPORTUNITY, CURIOSITY, INSIGHT & MARS 2020
One of the other interesting things about the simulation is the ability to look at the transfer orbit of space probes from various NASA Mars missions. As you can see, the transfer orbit is an elliptical
orbit around the sun, just like that of the planets. Note that the orbit has been carefully selected, allowing the space probe to encounter Mars. Due to its elliptical orbit, the space probe will
slow down as is gets further away from the sun. The approximated speed of the probe is displayed in PURPLE on the bottom left of the simulation (in KM/S).
By the time the probe reaches the target planet, it is going slower than Mars and will need to generate an extra boost to catch up  .
The most propellant-efficient way to get to Mars is a so-called "Hohmann transfer orbit"  which takes the probe exactly 180° around the sun . It uses two burn maneuvers, one to move
the probe onto the transfer orbit and one to move the probe off it  . While in the transfer orbit around the sun, the probe "coasts" and doesn't use any propellant  .
A Hohmann transfer orbit from Earth to Mars takes about 8.5 months . From the NASA Mars missions you can see that the "Total Sweep Angle" never quite gets to 180°. This means that more propellant
was used. At the same time this also means that the one-way transit time is less than 8.5 months . The NASA CURIOSITY mission comes closest with 177°. A Lambert solver is used to calculate the
scenarios with the least changes in velocity (ΔV) required to leave Earth and arrive at Mars. For human spaceflight to Mars, you will want to lower mission duration at the cost of additional
propellant use .
For additional information on the rocket that was used for the mission you can use the button within the simulation.
NOTE: The transfer orbits shown here, are estimated based on the positions of Earth and Mars at time of launch and landing. They are not based on any actual flight data.