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New VR Experiment Allows You To Walk On Planet Mars

24 October 2017, 10:26 am EDT By Sami Ghanmi Tech Times
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NASA and Google have joined forces to create a new virtual reality (VR) experiment that uses real images captured by NASA's 'Curiosity rover'. The 'Access Mars' experiment allows its users to visit planet Mars and experience it from the comfort of their homes.

NASA And Google's VR Experiment: Access Mars

Those who are curious about how it looks like to walk on the surface of the red planet can now get a chance to experience it in the virtual world, using NASA and Google's latest "Access Mars" experiment.

Access Mars uses real digital images that were captured by NASA's Curiosity rover, a car-sized robotic vehicle designed to explore the surface of Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).

The new VR experiment enables users to virtually walk on the surface of the planet and visit the actual terrains and paths explored by Curiosity. The experiment provides a new virtual reality learning experience that teaches users about Mars and the rover's mission.

According to Google, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to update the data continously so that users will be able to view where the rover has been.

How Does Access Mars Work?

The VR experiment is based on NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's software that helps scientists plan and manage the Curiosity rover's operations. The Access Mars exprience can be viewed from most VR headsets available in the market, including Oculus, Gear VR, Daydream, Google Cardboard and HTC Vive.

Those who don't have a VR headset need not worry as the experience can also work on web browsers by allowing users to click their way around the virtual world.

"The experience is built using WebVR, a technology that lets you see virtual reality right in your browser, without installing any apps. You can try it on a virtual reality headset, phone, or laptop," said Ryan Burke, Interactive Producer at Google's Creative Lab, in a blog post.

Curiosity Rover

Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Nov. 26, 2011. It was launched aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012.

The primary goal of Curiosity was to determine whether the red planet could ever have supported life, and its mission could also help scientists prepare for human exploration in the future. This year in August, NASA celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Curiosity rover's landing.

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