NASA teams-up with Microsoft to enable holographic exploration of the surface of Mars.

They won’t literally be walking on the Red Planet, but in a few months, NASA scientists will be exploring Mars in an entirely new way.

Using a software program called OnSight, a team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will explore an area of the Martian surface without leaving the safety of their offices, or missing their lunch breaks.

OnSight will use Curiosity Rover data and feed it to Microsoft HoloLens headsets worn by members of the Curiosity mission team. The device will blend Curiosities data-set with imagery generated by OnSight allowing for an unprecedented view of the Martian field site.

“OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Such a viewpoint allows mission critical decisions about when to use Curiosities instruments to be made in an entirely novel way.

Previously, scientists would view images sent from Curiosity on their computer screens, but by using OnSight and HoloLens scientists can extend that field of vision right off their desktops and into 3D.

Controlling robots over vast distances is always challenging. Trying to do so with only a flat 2D monitor to interpret the data only adds to the difficulty. Onsight and HoloLens promise to open up entirely new viewpoints and it seems NASA scientists can’t wait to try it.


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