Take a Virtual Walk on Mars with NASA

 

 

 

(above) Access Mars allows any member of the public to explore the discoveries of NASA’s Curiosity rover. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

You have the time, so why not take the ultimate day-trip ~ to Mars. Starting April, 2020, everyone can get a taste of what that feels like. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience. It’s available for use on all desktop and mobile devices and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets. That includes mobile-based virtual reality devices on Apple and Android. Buckle up!

Access Mars lets anyone with an internet connection take a guided tour of what those scientists experience. A simple walkthrough explains what the Curiosity rover does and details its dramatic landing in 2012. Users also can visit four sites that have been critical to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission: Curiosity’s landing site; Murray Buttes; Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. Additionally, the rover’s latest location on lower Mt. Sharp will be periodically updated to reflect the mission’s ongoing progress.

At the first three locations, users can zero in on objects of scientific interest, including rock outcrops and mud cracks. Katie Stack Morgan, a JPL scientist on the MSL mission, will explain the evidence of habitability Curiosity has unearthed.

Above ~ When NASA scientists want to follow the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, they can don a mixed-reality headset and virtually explore the Martian landscape. Now everyone can get a sense of what that looks and feels like by visiting https://g.co/accessmars . NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, collaborated with Google to produce “Access Mars,” a free immersive experience. It’s available for use on all desktop and mobile devices and VR/AR headsets. This includes mobile-based iOS and Android devices. Users can visit four sites that have been critical to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission: Curiosity’s landing site; Murray Buttes; Marias Pass; and Pahrump Hills. The rover’s location on lower Mount Sharp will be periodically updated to reflect the mission’s ongoing progress. For more about all of NASA’s Mars missions, go to https://mars.nasa.gov

Image via mars exploration program

More than anything, Access Mars offers a visceral impression of what it would be like to walk alongside Curiosity, wandering through the lonely, red desert.

“We’ve been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day,” said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL’s Ops Lab, which led the collaboration. “With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along.”

Access Mars was created using data collected by JPL and built on WebVR, an open-source standard, in an effort to expand access to immersive experiences. Google’s Creative Labs team was looking for novel uses for VR and encouraged developers to experiment using its tools.

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