Mars is no picnic. If you ever get the chance to wander across its rusty surface, you’re going to have to put up with dust storms, night temperatures far below freezing, and just enough radiation to make even Bruce Banner sweat a little. Fortunately, NASA’s released a pair of new interactive experiences to let you explore the Red Planet from the comfort of your home.
Mars for your Mac (or Windows PC)
If you want to trundle along with the Perseverance rover, which has been exploring the planet for the past few months, then head over to “Explore with Perseverance”.
There, you can follow the rover on a 3D recreation of its journey so far, stopping to investigate peculiar rocks or to explore the flight zone of the Ingenuity helicopter, giving you a Google Street View-esque experience of the planet, only with more room to move.
The simulation is managed by an offshoot of the Advanced Science Targeting Tool for Robotic Operations, or ASTTRO (clever), which is used to decide where Perseverance should investigate next. The 3D landscape itself is based on snaps captured by Perseverance and data picked up by NASA’s Mars Orbiter.
The experience will be updated as Perseverance and Ingenuity discover more of the Red Planet, reports The Next Web.
The other experience is slightly less excited but still cool in its own way. It’s called “Where is Perseverance?” and it does what it says on the tin: pinpoints the current location of the rover (and the Ingenuity ‘copter, too).
Additionally, it highlights the rover’s path, maps out interesting things it’s seen so far, and tells you the Martian day (sol) the pair arrived at them.
While these aren’t exactly real-life accurate experiences, you’ll probably be a lot more comfortable exploring Mars from your computer than with your own two feet. And we call that a win.