As the new Pokémon Go app slowly takes over the Earth, a natural question arose: has the app’s influence extended out into the vacuum of space?
Are there Pokémon in space? I like to imagine @NASA astronauts up there trying to capture them. #PokemonGO— Anthony Hansen (@AnthonyHansen) July 11, 2016
@NASA is there a #PokemonGO gym on the moon and if so, can you confirm for me what team has claimed it? Please and thanks.— Meg (@ap0stitute) July 11, 2016
Let’s face it: space would be the ultimate place to play Pokémon Go. The station travels around the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour. Just think of all the pokéstops you could visit in just one orbit! But do astronauts even have GPS-related apps in space, let alone smartphones?
There was only one way to know for sure. I reached out to NASA for comment. But the space agency informed me that the astronauts aboard the ISS cannot play:
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the astronauts to play. While there is a small number of smartphones available on the space station, the crew uses them for science activities, but not for personal use. The smartphones and other mobile devices on station (tablets) also do not have internet connectivity.
Bummer. But it’s probably for the best. Stories have already surfaced indicating that Pokémon Go may not be as safe as you’d hope. Plus, astronauts have pretty busy days on the ISS as it is. The most recent NASA astronaut to join the ISS, Kate Rubins, will be tasked with sequencing DNA in space for the first time. Imagine the work that would be stalled if a lure point was set up just outside the orbiting lab.
@lorengrush @NASA_Astronauts "Umm, Houston...request immediate EVA because...umm..."— Rome Strach (@romn8tr) July 11, 2016
But also think of the screenshots!
Still NASA isn’t totally isolated from the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go. The virtual creatures have been spotted around NASA’s Saturn V rockets at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Pokemon at @NASA_Johnson's rocket part! Lots of Jynx! #NASAIntern #PokemonGo #Houston @PokemonGoNews pic.twitter.com/1Cemqvjxsc— Kirsi Kuutti (@KirsiCootie) July 9, 2016
Also, it turns out that the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which just put a spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter, is also a gym. Not only do people go to JPL to strengthen their knowledge of the Universe, but also to strengthen their Pokémon team’s prestige.
And it looks like NASA’s Curiosity rover has gotten a bit distracted lately.
Rover to NASA, I’ve got a new mission now, sorry… pic.twitter.com/g5eaRRt9mJ— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) July 11, 2016