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NASA adds popular app to Apple TV

With NASA's new Apple TV app, anyone's living room can be a space-observation deck.

Until now, users wanting to display NASA's app on their TV had to cast it through Apple's remote streaming software, AirPlay, or a similar service. But as of Tuesday, Apple TV owners can call up the app without having to send it through an iPad or iPhone.

The app has already been downloaded 17 million times on the iOS, Android and Kindle Fire OS platforms. Its bevy of features includes satellite tracking maps, and about 15,000 images that can be displayed in a single continuous slideshow. It also provides details about upcoming missions, including launch information complete with countdown clocks. And, of course, viewers can watch live high-definition NASA TV and on-demand video.

NASA unveiled the High-Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment in April 2014. It uses several HD cameras pointed at Earth, which are housed in a pressurized case on the International Space Station's European branch. The HDEV stream is paired with an ISS tracker that can tell viewers where the station is positioned.

As of publication, NASA had not yet responded to an email inquiring about when the app might be available on other video streaming services, such as Roku or Chromecast.