I know why you are here – space fanatic, right? You dream of taking a step beyond the lands of our planet and you crave for knowing how it might feel to do so. Well, you can take a walk on Mars, without having to risk your life – thanks to Google.
‘Google knows it all’, it is a cliché widely used; and Google is proving it quite right with each day. This time it isn’t an answer to anything, but it is rather an experience that most of us yearn for – walking on worlds beyond Earth. Overwhelmingly sad to say that most of us will never set foot on Mars for real – but here’s the next best thing – take a virtual reality tour to Mars. To achieve that, NASA and Google teamed up their workforces and developed an in-house virtual reality experience called ‘Access Mars‘. This project was initiated with a goal to let anyone take a virtual tour to the red planet and understand the working of Curiosity Rover, through its eyes.
Access Mars was designed by NASA engineers and Google programmers, who stitched together 2,00,000 real photographs taken by Curiosity Rover, ever since it landed Mars in 2012 – to develop extremely realistic virtual Martian landscape. This virtual tour will not only let common people explore Martian world, but it will also let researchers to better understand Curiosity’s data by making it fully immersive and interpretable. Imagine the information about Mars, that geologists will now be able to extract from this project.
What makes it even cooler is the fact that this VR experience has been built with WebVR technology, which means it can be used and seen from any web browser without any app installation or any fancy VR gadget. And there is also an option to load in on VR headsets so that you can experience the 360-degree view of Mars. All you need will be a computer with a web browser and efficient internet connection – and you my friend, are good to go to Mars. Experience those rusty rocky terrains and those harsh atmospheric conditions on Mars – everything from your home while you can breathe freely, walk around without a bulky spacesuit, without having to risk your lives.
When you open up the Access Mars website, it opens up with a short introductory video that takes us through the journey of Curiosity Rover, briefly. After which, you will be dropped on the barren, harsh Martian terrains alongside Curiosity, and NASA scientist Katie Morgan will be your tour guide throughout the experience. With an option to explore around freely and a map to navigate to different points along rover’s journey – it also allows us to see the current location of Curiosity. And, and, NASA continuously refreshes all the images, which means all data is not any older than just a few days or a week! Can’t ask for more can we! Go, indulge.