Explore virtual Mars in NASA’s Mars 2030 Experience

Recently humanity’s desire to expand from one rock flying around the universe, to a new and somewhat less appealing rock flying around the universe – in particular, Mars –  has been getting a lot of air-time. NASA have announced they want to offer the first one-way tickets by 2030, and have started to ready the guinea pigs  astronauts. Tony Stark – or Elon Musk as he’s otherwise known – remains focused on his lifetime goal of retiring on the red planet, and is supposedly preparing to announce his plans for a city on Mars in Mexico later this year.

The Mars 2030 Experience

In the more immediate future, and a little closer to home (225million kilometres closer to be precise), NASA in collaboration with FUSION media and MIT, are bringing a VR experience set on Mars to Steam later this year. The ‘Mars 2030 Experience’ will be available free of charge to owners of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung VR Gear and google cardboard, with the experience also being found on the Itunes and Google play stores. The experience will also offer twitch streaming support, although we’re not sure if even NASA have prepared themselves for the horrors that lie within twitch chat.

NASA’s director of their Advanced Exploration Systems Division, Jason Crusan, highlighted that “simulated environments have always been important in astronaut training” and that in the past simulators have made up a large portion of astronaut training. He said that VR is helping with the actual Mars 2030 mission and that the Mars 2030 Experience is a way of inspiring would-be astronauts and just showing the world exactly what Mars has to offer.

The Mars 2030 Experience
not a lot at the moment, to be perfectly honest

The experience itself draws on NASA’s geographical knowledge of the planet to create a 20km squared map, which in gaming terms means Mars 2030 Experience is roughly Skyrim sized, which despite being 144.78million square kilometres short of the real thing, is pretty damn big.

Everything, from the gravity physics to the topography, is accurately created by  actual scientists, so you can probably go ahead and tick the realism box when it comes to this title. Also, the experience offers players a variety of simple missions to complete, mainly as an excuse to guide the player to cool locations, which is pretty nice of them.

The Mars 2030 Experience

All in all the Mars 2030 Experience is a great opportunity for those of us who will, unfortunately, miss out on the limited number of one-way flights, to experience the red planet firsthand – or at least until Ryanair expands their horizons.

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