The two companies released a free, virtual space exploration program called “Access Mars” recently.
It virtually transports users, wherever they are, to Earth’s neighboring planet in the solar system. Users can do so on a computer, phone or a virtual reality headset.
The technology simulates walking on the red planet and gives close-up views of discoveries that have been made by the Curiosity rover.
Walking in space, or on the terrains of an unknown planet is no more the prerogative of the astronauts, thanks to the Google’s latest innovation, Access Mars! In a significant development, NASA and Google have teamed up to let the space enthusiasts explore outer space, without even stepping out of their living rooms. Under the Access Mars project, NASA has for the first time spelled out the actual fetchings of its landmark mission Curiosity. If you are curious about the unknown terrains of the Red Planet, here is your chance to take a walk on Mars for free all the while staying in your living room, thanks to Google’s immersive experience initiative Access Mars.
“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,” Ryan Burke, Interactive Producer at Google’s Creative Lab wrote in a blog post.
The experience was adapted from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s OnSight software, which assists scientists in planning rover drives and even holding meetings on Mars.
Imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover provided the terrain.
“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,” Luo said.
Since being rolled out to JPL’s scientists in 2015, OnSight has made studying Martian geology as intuitive as turning your head and walking around.
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.
Google said that JPL will continuously update the data so that users see where Curiosity has just been in the past few days or weeks.
“All along the way, JPL scientist Katie Stack Morgan will be your guide, explaining key points about the rover, the mission, and some of the early findings,” Burke added.
You can learn more, or do some exploring, on the program’s website.