You might not have to travel very far at all to walk on Mars.
NASA is opening a new augmented-reality experience using Microsoft's HoloLens. The user will get to explore a region on Mars — with Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin as their holographic guide.
Here's a preview of what the "Destination: Mars" experience will look like:
The experience is modeled after an existing program called OnSight that NASA scientists use to analyze data from the Mars Curiosity rover. It helps scientists feel more connected to the work they're doing on a planet about 225 million kilometers away.
"OnSight makes the whole process of analyzing the data feel a lot more natural to me," Abigail Fraeman, a researcher who works with Curiosity, said in a press release. "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."
Now the public can have that same experience. "Destination: Mars" users will get to explore areas of the red planet reconstructed from real images and data that Curiosity has collected over the past four years.
"This experience lets the public explore Mars in an entirely new way," Doug Ellison, a visualization producer at NASA, said in NASA's press release. "To walk through the exact landscape that Curiosity is roving across puts its achievements and discoveries into beautiful context."
The "Destination: Mars" exhibit will open at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida this summer.
NASA has said the first Mars missions won't take off until the 2030s, so we'll make do with this for now.
h/t The Verge