Is this ‘life on Mars’? New project makes walking on red planet a virtual reality (VIDEO)
OnSight, a mixed-reality software, allows the space agency to give its scientists the chance to take a “virtual field trip” to Mars where they can study the planet’s geology using data collected from NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover.
The system uses that data to create an immersive 3D landscape of Mars that scientists can explore wearing VR headsets.
A collaboration between Microsoft and Ops Lab, it aims to bring scientists closer to being in the field - without having to take a spaceship or spending decades in transit to get there. The inventive innovation has been awarded NASA's 2018 Software of the Year Award.
What's it like to walk on Mars? A mixed-reality software brings this virtual field trip to our scientists so they can study Martian geology using @MarsCuriosity data while "walking" on Mars. It recently received our Software of the Year award. Take a look: https://t.co/TaPYtUYbANpic.twitter.com/K58T6v4qCq— NASA (@NASA) October 14, 2018
“Feeling like you're standing on Mars really gives you a different sense of Mars than just looking at the pictures," OnSight’s Parker Abercrombie said of the mixed-reality experience. “And I think it's a really powerful way to bring people to these places that they physically can't visit.”
The software helps the exploratory rover and its team, too. “Being able to visualize Curiosity's drives and virtually walk them before we actually do it with the rover is really helpful to give me a sense of how safe or challenging the terrain will be,” Curiosity scientist Abigail Fraeman said.
It’s not just scientists who get to have all the fun - OnSight wants to allow the public to experience it too, and the team is working on a way to do just that.
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