[meteorite-list] 'Mixed Reality' Technology Brings Mars to Earth

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2016 16:30:27 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201603312330.u2VNURfl024790_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


'Mixed Reality' Technology Brings Mars to Earth
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
March 30, 2016

What might it look like if you were walking around on Mars? A group of
researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California,
has been working on methods to take this question from the realm of imagination
to the mind-bending domain of mixed reality.

As a result, NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to offer the public a guided
tour of an area of Mars with astronaut Buzz Aldrin this summer in "Destination:
Mars," an interactive exhibit using the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality
headset. "Mixed reality" means that virtual elements are merged with the
user's actual environment, creating a world in which real and virtual
objects can interact.

Mixed-Reality Tech Brings Mars to Earth

The "Destination: Mars" exhibit will open at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Visitor Complex in Florida this summer. Guests will "visit" several sites
on Mars, reconstructed using real imagery from NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover,
which has been exploring the Red Planet since August 2012. Buzz Aldrin,
an Apollo 11 astronaut who walked on the moon in 1969, will serve as "holographic
tour guide" on the journey. Curiosity Mars rover driver Erisa Hines of
JPL will also appear holographically, leading participants to places on
Mars where scientists have made exciting discoveries and explaining what
we have learned 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," said Doug Ellison,
visualization producer at JPL.

"Destination: Mars" is an adaptation of OnSight, a Mars rover mission
operations tool co-developed by Microsoft and JPL. A pilot group of scientists
uses OnSight in their work supporting the Curiosity Mars rover's operations.

"We're excited to give the public a chance to see Mars using cutting-edge
technologies that help scientists plan Curiosity's activities on Mars
today," said Jeff Norris, project manager for OnSight and "Destination:
Mars" at JPL. "While freely exploring the terrain, participants learn
about processes that have shaped this alien world."

Abigail Fraeman, a Curiosity science team member at JPL, uses OnSight
to make recommendations about where the rover should drive and which features
to study in more detail. Recently OnSight helped her and a colleague identify
the transition point between two Martian rock formations, which they would
like to study in further detail.

"OnSight makes the whole process of analyzing the data feel a lot more
natural to me," Fraeman said. "It really gives me the sense that I'm in
the field when I put it on. Thinking about Martian geology is a lot more
intuitive when I can stand in the scene and walk around the way I would
if I were in the field."

By utilizing the same technologies and datasets as OnSight, "Destination:
Mars" offers participants a glimpse of Mars as seen by mission scientists.

JPL is also developing mixed reality applications in support of astronauts
on the International Space Station and engineers responsible for the design
and assembly of spacecraft. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently returned
from his historic "Year in Space" activities, used one of these applications
to make the first Skype call from space to mission control in February

"By connecting astronauts to experts on the ground, mixed reality could
be transformational for scientific and engineering efforts in space,"
Norris said.

"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.

News Media Contact

Elizabeth Landau
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Elizabeth.Landau at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Thu 31 Mar 2016 07:30:27 PM PDT

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