Virtual Reality Brings Outer Space Closer To Us
NASA has tapped into the potential of virtual reality to bring Mars close to us here on earth. A recent exhibition tagged “Destination Mars” was launched at the NASA Kennedy Space center Visitor Complex in Florida in April 2016. This virtual reality experience lets the users and viewers see Mars the way an astronaut would see it if he were to actually land on the planet according to Tech Crunch.
Destination Mars Project; a Guided Tour of Mars
The project is led by NASA in collaboration with Microsoft and they have utilized virtual reality technology to bring to us a new, mixed reality experience. The project makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset to put together all the virtual content in the user’s actual environment.
Even though the project and its medium are in the beginning stages, the designers are working hard to find a way to incorporate both life-sized person and Mars images into one single environment, considering the performance constraints attributed with mixed reality headsets.
In the course of the exhibit, the visitors can visit several sites on Mars with the help of actual images captured by the Mars Rover since August 2012. A holographic image of Dr. Buzz Aldrin will lead the virtual reality tour. The participants of this tour will be taken to notable places around Mars where scientists have made new discoveries and this will teach people about the red planet.
According to Doug Elison who is a visualization producer at JPL, the mixed reality experience lets the public experience mars in an entirely new way. The success of science and technology to allow people explore the landscape of Mars where Curiosity has been itself is a big achievement.
“To walk through the exact landscape that Curiosity is roving across puts its achievements and discoveries into beautiful context,” Ellison added in a NASA publication.
The “Destination Mars” makes use of OnSight, a software tool signed by Microsoft and JPL. The software simulates the environment that Curiosity has captured and lets scientists study the environment as though they were there physically at the exact same place. This has solved a lot of the challenges that scientists faced in space exploration which is relaying to the world their actual experience. This mixed reality project undertaken by NASA in partnership with Microsoft is an incredible feat that helps us better understand space exploration.
Virtual reality technology has also found its application in various other sectors such as education and healthcare. Schools now have guided tours of certain historical places for their students to experience and in the healthcare industry we have seen VR technology used in pain management and surgical training.
It is no shock that the technologies of today are developments or adaptations from already existing technologies which were all designed to make life easier and better. These technologies ultimately transform our dynamic lifestyles. More than the ability to connect with the world which the technologies of this age have all excelled in, the experience that virtual reality offers is what sets it apart from all others