Two years ago, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing gave flight to a handful of Apollo 11 augmented reality apps and experiences, including one from the Smithsonian Channel.
With NASA’s latest unmanned mission to Mars scheduled for Thursday, the Smithsonian Channel digital team has created yet another space-based AR app for the occasion.
Available now for iOS and Android, the Mission to Mars AR app unloads seven AR experiences that allow you to get a closer look at the red planet and its rovers past and present and explore them from the comfort of the third rock of the Sun.
The Mars Overview experience also gives you the opportunity to view a thumbnail view of the planet, while the Portal to Mars does exactly what an AR enthusiast would expect – anchoring a digital passageway to a 360-degree simulation of the surface of the planet. the planet.
The app also lets you view 3D models of the five rovers that traversed the planet’s terrain, while the Drive the Rovers feature lets you control a virtual rover with four scaling options (1: 1, 1: 2, 1 : 4, and 1: 8) and capture images of your hijinks.
Additionally, the app’s Launch the Rocket feature mimics the July 30, 2020 launch of the rocket that puts Perseverance into orbit, while the Seven Minutes of Terror feature simulates the rover’s landing at its destination.
Finally, the Mission on Mars feature puts you behind the controls of a virtual Perseverance rover (landing today) for a guided simulation where you can drive and pilot the vehicle and pilot the Ingenuity mini-helicopter.
With every experience, you can capture photos and videos directly in the app to share with others. In addition, the app features eight videos and quizzes about different aspects of Mars and the expeditions to explore it.
While the app is conveniently launched alongside Perseverance’s arrival on Mars, the Smithsonian Channel also has an ulterior motive for the app; it serves as an aperitif to Making Tracks on Mars, which debuts Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
Regardless, if you want to fully indulge the geek, you can see the Perseverance rover live as it is scheduled to land at 2:15 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 18.
Before that, download and install the Mission to Mars AR app from the App Store or Google Play and play with the Mars Overview, Meet the Rovers and Launch the Rocket experiences prior to landing.
Then perform the Seven Minutes of Terror experience as it lands. Then run the Portal to Mars and Mission on Mars to explore the planet next to Perseverance. That’s peak space, honey.
Or, if you’ve found your way to this story after the live event is over, you can just run the experiences at your leisure.
In either case, any opportunity for the average Earthling to travel through space in the near future seems reserved for the rich and famous. For now, augmented reality gives the rest of us the chance to simulate the experience without even having to reach the atmosphere of our home planet.