2004 started a new era in planetary exploration. Two Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed successfully on the surface of Mars and a short while later started sending lots of images and other data. The rovers were designed to work properly for only 90 days on the Martian surface but, believe it or not, they are still in a good health and do not seem to stop working. During over 3-year period NASA has received a huge amount of data that are hard to present for the wider public. The solution of this problem has been provided by Sciterian Technologies. Its VRPresents technology, especially designed for this purpose, gives astronomy lovers a new interesting way to introduce the planet. Now you can just take a virtual tour of Mars.
High resolution panoramic images of Mars are quite difficult to view in many similar VR technologies, which one can notice even at NASA’s websites, but VRPresents not only displays these panoramas warped correctly, but it provides also a lot of other useful features that make learning scientific results easy and enjoyable.
Virtual reality technology seems to be the answer to the question “how to present complex scientific data and not to bore the common man ?”. In VR world you can just move in any available direction and see many places that were visited earlier by the rovers. It is you who decides where to go, what to watch, what to see closer or what information to read. If you want to see what is around you, just start turning round. If you would like to move somewhere in the virtual world – no problem, just click a hot spot which will take you to another panorama, and your direction in 3D space will not change like it does in many other VR technologies. You do not have to read any information to learn where a specific place is and you do not have to imagine all these fantastic places on the surface of Mars since you do not watch just panoramic images, which are introduced in different projections, but you see really something similar to what you would see standing on the surface of Mars, without distortions. For your convenience, you are equipped with a compass and a set of maps, which helps you in navigation. In most cases you can also locate yourself easily on these maps since they indicate your exact position.
The advantages of using VR to present difficult scientific data become quite obvious once you launch “VRMars-Spirit – The Red Planet Mars 3D” – the first VRPresents-based product that presents the results of Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Mission with the aid of virtual reality, released by Sciterian Technologies. The software is really interesting. I recommend it not only for scientists and hobbyists but for school teaching purposes as well. Science really can be fun and the Mars Rover Spirit appeared to be a great teacher.
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