NASA worked together with Microsoft to create “Destination: Mars,“ an interactive exhibit that will enable people to explore Mars using the Microsoft HoloLens headset technology. The exhibit was reconstructed using the images taken by the Curiosity Rover and will open this summer at the space agency’s Kennedy Space Centre’s visitor complex in Florida.
Legendary Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Curiosity Mars rover driver Erisa Hines will serve as holographic tour guides. Exhibit guests will visit various areas on the Red Planet where astronauts have made exciting discoveries with informed lectures about the planet.
“This experience lets the public explore Mars in an entirely new way. To walk through the exact landscape that Curiosity is roving across puts its achievements and discoveries into beautiful context,” adds Doug Ellison in a press release. Ellison is a visualisation producer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Destination: Mars” is an adaptation of OnSight, a rover mission operations tool also developed by Microsoft and JPL that allows scientists to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices.
Moreover, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is also creating mixed reality applications in support of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) and engineers that designed and assembled the spacecraft. In fact, in February 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly utilised one of these applications to make the first Skype call from space to mission control.
“By connecting astronauts to experts on the ground, mixed reality could be transformational for scientific and engineering efforts in space,” says Jeff Norris, project manager for OnSight and “Destination: Mars” at JPL. “As we prepare to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, the public will now be able to preview the experience the astronauts will have as they walk and study the Martian surface,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington.