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NASA wants to explore Mars with augmented reality

Even with all of the technical advancements that we’ve had in recent years NASA is still decades away from being able to put a human being on Mars. The good news is that the agency is a pro at putting robots on Mars, and with its new partnership with Microsoft, NASA might be able to turn that into a nice middle ground for human and robotic Martian exploration thanks to immersive augmented reality.

NASA has gotten really good at successfully landing robots on Mars, but we’re still decades away from getting humans there. Thanks to a new partnership with Microsoft, the space agency is about to bridge the gap between robot and human exploration by using immersive augmented reality. Windows Holographic and HoloLens made up one of the most exciting announcements at Microsoft’s big event this week. During and after the event, the demonstrations ranged from using the augmented reality goggles to play a living room-sized version Minecraft to working with a CAD-like software. But the most audacious demo was of OnSight, a program developed for HoloLens by NASA’s Ops Lab. It lets scientists explore a virtual Mars using data collected by the Curiosity rover. It’s collaborative, too: scientists in different locations can join the session remotely, appearing in each other’s HoloLens as humanoid avatars. Our own Tom Warren tried it out in Redmond and said it was jaw-dropping.

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