New Virtual Reality Experience on Mars Brought to Life by NASA

March 29, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Virtual reality of astronaut building on Mars
Photo credit: NASA

Soon, you will be able to experience the red planet like never before!

Recent technological advancements in virtual reality have truly opened up the opportunity for people to experience the near impossible, all within a virtual realm. Now, NASA is taking virtual reality to a whole new level. They are about to launch MARS 2030, an interactive Mars experience which would allow people to simulate the experience of being on the red planet.

The project, which debuted this month at South by Southwest Interactive, is part of a collaboration between NASA, the multi-platform media company Media FUSION, and MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory. As Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division, stated in a news release, “Simulated environments have always been important in astronaut training.”

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These physics-based simulations are a great help for NASA engineers because they provide a virtual realm — as close to the real thing we can get — for the numerous tests that help prepare astronauts for a potential journey into space or to MARS. Now, NASA wants to bring this same experience to the everyday user.

“Beyond practical uses for training, virtual reality offers us a compelling method to share the work we’ve been doing to design sustainable human missions and to inspire the next generation of pioneers in space. We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring FUSION’s virtual experience as close to reality as we know it based on years of Mars surface architecture studies,” Jason Crusan went on to say.

According to the release by NASA, the Mars 2030 experience will be available for free on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, Samsung’s VR gear via Valve’s stream marketplace, and on Fusion.net. The experience will also be released onto iTunes and Google play, which would make the Mars experience available for iPhone and Android users.

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