Do you ever get lonely? How would you feel if you were trapped on a red planet, somewhere far, far away, where only the cold dirt and hard rocks can hear you? This is a real possibility for some astronauts of the not so distant future, and reminding them of home could be crucial to keeping our astronauts sane. That’s where VR comes in.
NASA, Smart Information Flow Technologies, and 8i are currently researching using virtual and augmented reality to help Mars astronauts feel like they’re safe back at home. The team wants to create a “library of inspirational messages” to help remind the travelers why they are doing what they’re doing, and possibly help them to connect with family and friends while they’re away. The teams are also experimenting with using some other memorable earth figures telling them how proud they are. So far, the group has created some recordings of Buzz Aldrin discussing his vision of the mars mission, along with Reggie Watts performing one of his classic beat-box tracks. As far as the Astronauts sanity is concerned, the more variety these recordings include, the better.
The HI-SEAS Mars simulator experiment received some of the early clips during their year-long mission, and they seem to have helped quite a bit so far. The project is set to run every year until 2019, so it will be interesting to see if the virtual video experiments evolve as the project runs on. The celebrity-endorsed videos will start next year, so stay tuned to hear about how those turn out.
While Buzz Aldrin will be first making his VR experience through Google Cardboard, there is set to be a full “Buzz Aldrin Experience” for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in the near future. Whether or not this is what the space travelers will use is currently unknown, but whatever platform they go with, we’re sure it will be great.
Are you interested in the project? Maybe NASA will release the full recordings after they are complete.