SpaceEngine is a realistic virtual universe that can be browsed on the computer. Many features can be explored in this program, such as traveling from star to star, observing different galaxies, and landing on other planets and the ability to learn its alien landscape. Additionally, it contains programs which allow change in the speed of time and observes across the universe, which consists of billions of planetary systems. Users can use time, speed, navigation and functions to explore the whole universe. The primary focus of SpaceEngine is to explore the universe and encounter different objects. Users of the simulation observe universal objects ranging from small rocks or moons, to large clusters of galaxies by traveling at any direction or speed they choose.
Traveling at different speeds can be set through the settings. For example, users can set a constant velocity that can travel up to hundred millions parsecs per second (1 parsec = 3.3 light years).
This program wouldn’t be used for any situation unless anyone would want to explore numerous celestial objects. While using SpaceEngine, users may navigate using the input devices, including keyboard/mouse commands, and WASD command keys. The left mouse button allows to click and hold objects and look around. Right mouse button allows it to click and hold objects and rotate. WASD keys allow the screen to move around in any direction, although, the keyboard settings can be customized. Additionally, a user may travel to any object in the program’s universe by selecting it and using the “go to object” function in the drop down menu. Objects can be selected either by searching for them in the search window or by just clicking on them.
Users can also use the input windows to slow down, speed up, or travel to a specific point of time to see any universal changes, like the flare-up of a star or an arrival of a comet. Although, the input windows will only accept dates ranging from Jan 1, -2,147,483,648 to Dec 31, 2,147,483,648. Users may use all these input devices to navigate their way through the program. SpaceEngine accounts all features for it to model by the use of procedural generation. Russian astronomer, also developer of the program, Vladimir Romanyuk, states, “The idea to use procedural generation came naturally,” which is based on real scientific knowledge, so it depicts the universe the way it is thought to be by modern science. The use of procedural generation allows for a bigger universe to examine with billions of galaxies, stars and planets. Romanyuk also admits, “Making a generated universe look real, taking into account real physical laws and astronomical observations is difficult,” believing a bigger challenge would be procedurally generating multicellular lifeforms that are both realistic, observable, and not so complex that they lag the simulation. Although SpaceEngine is primarily just a free roam sandbox program, it contains a few minor downsides.
For example, it requires an intensive graphics processor (NVIDIA or AMD / ATI 2 GB dedicated VRAM). If this is lacking, then it may not run or render smoothly. Also, if a user tries to look into any galaxy or planet up close, then the program will not run smoothly and could possibly encounter freeze frames. Additional minor limitations include stellar proper motion, which is an astronomical measure of changes in apparent places of stars, is not stimulated even if the stars rotate and orbit around the solar system. As of relying on any assumptions, SpaceEngine doesn’t rely on many things things, other than a strong graphic processor Even though SpaceEngine contains these small limitations, is can still support a large variety of speculations and is easily modifiable.