Cool! Science: NASA Makes Two New Tools About Mars Available Online (Visualizations and Simulations)
On the three-year anniversary of the Mars landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover, NASA is unveiling two new online tools that open the mysterious terrain of the Red Planet to a new generation of explorers, inviting the public to help with its journey to Mars.
Mars Trek is a free, web-based application that provides high-quality, detailed visualizations of the planet using real data from 50 years of NASA exploration and allowing astronomers, citizen scientists and students to study the Red Planet’s features.
Experience Curiosity allows viewers to journey along with the one-ton rover on its Martian expeditions. The program simulates Mars in 3-D based on actual data from Curiosity and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), giving users first-hand experience in a day in the life of a Mars rover.
A NASA team already is using Mars Trek to aid in the selection of possible landing sites for the agency’s Mars 2020 rover, and the application will be used as part of NASA’s newly-announced process to examine and select candidate sites for the first human exploration mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Mars Trek has interactive maps, which include the ability to overlay a range of data sets generated from instruments aboard spacecraft orbiting Mars, and analysis tools for measuring surface features. Standard keyboard gaming controls are used to maneuver the users across Mars’ surface and 3-D printer-exportable topography allows users to print physical models of surface features.
Mars Trek was developed by NASA’s Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project, which provides mission planners, lunar scientists and the public with analysis and data visualization tools for our moon.
Experience Curiosity also uses real science data to create a realistic and game-ready rover model based entirely on real mechanisms and executed commands. Users can manipulate the rover’s tools and view Mars through each of its cameras.
“We’ve done a lot of heavy 3-D processing to make Experience Curiosity work in a browser. Anybody with access to the web can take a journey to Mars,” said Kevin Hussey, manager of the Visualization Applications and Development group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which manages and operates the Curiosity rover.
Read the Complete Announcement from NASA
Direct to Mars Trek App
Direct to Experience Curiosity
Direct to NASA’s Journey to Mars Web Site
Direct to Download and Print 3-D Model of Curiosity Rover
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.