NASA releases 360 degree view of Martian surface

Using Oculus Rift Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists has come up with an immersive, 360 degree ‘virtual reality’ experience. The video has been clubbed together by Facebook’s 360 degree video team and is made up of 57 separate images taken by the Curiosity rover.

The images have been clicked by the rover’s robotic-arm mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on December 8, 2015 during the 1,197 sol (or Martian day). One sol is 40 minutes longer than an earth day. The video also shows Mount Sharp and Namib sand dunes of the large Bagnold dunes that blow.

Facebook has launched the 360 degree video technology in September 2015, after it bought virtual reality company Oculus. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, was of the view that it is just the beginning of what they can do with virtual reality and 360 video.

When one would see the videos, they would see Namib Dune, which is the dark slope that makes the majority of the scene. In addition, NASA is also developing a VR experience app called Mars 2030 showing footage taken from its Mars rovers for consumer VR headsets like Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive.

NASA’s senior communications manager Erin Mahoney said that one of the important part of NASA’s journey to Mars is the work they are doing to make space more accessible to individuals and non-governmental entities.

It will allow users to experience life on the Red Planet and get a feel of what it is like to be an astronaut. NASA has affirmed that it will offer the Mars 2030 experience app on iPhone, Android, Playstation VR with an aim to reach out to children and young people, so they can be interested in space and virtual reality.

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