Explore Mars from your couch with NASA’s new Curiosity rover simulator

nasa debuts two online tools for exploring mars exp curiosity
If you can believe it, the Mars Curiosity rover just celebrated its third anniversary of landing on the Red Planet today, and to commemorate the incredible achievement, NASA decided to give the entire world a free trip there — well, digitally at least. In a press release published to NASA’s website, the space agency unveiled not one, but two new online tools geared towards bringing the exploration of Mars to the general public. In other words, NASA just made visiting Mars possible without requiring you wear a cumbersome spacesuit. Hell, you wouldn’t even need to put on pants to drive the Curiosity rover around the surface of Mars. As Jesse Pinkman would say, “yeah science!”

The first of these programs, Mars Trek, is a web-based application which allows users to view and study various landmarks on Mars (like craters and volcanoes), and provides a bevy of information about the planet’s terrain. Mars Trek is essentially Google Earth if it were applied to Mars. NASA’s Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project developed this interactive tool by combing through and analyzing roughly 50 years of research and exploration data before applying it into a 2D and 3D model of Mars. Perhaps Mars Trek’s greatest feature is the fact NASA itself regularly uses the program to assist it in finding suitable landing spots for the Mars 2020 rover, as well as sites for a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA’s other simulation, called Experience Curiosity, ups the exploration ante by putting the reigns of the Curiosity rover firmly in the hands of anyone using the program. While this doesn’t mean you’d get to drive the actual Mars rover — that would be outrageous — it does allow you to explore and learn about actual data discovered by Curiosity. By simply clicking on any one of the various markers set about the map, users have the ability to guide the rover across the unique terrain native to Mars. Experience Curiosity also gives visitors information about the rover itself, audio clips detailing how and when it discovered certain regions, and the ability to observe Mars via any of Curiosity’s onboard cameras.

“We’ve done a lot of heavy 3-D processing to make Experience Curiosity work in a browser,” said NASA’s Kevin Hussey. “Anybody with access to the web can take a journey to Mars.”

Even just a few short years ago it seemed ludicrous to think we’d have the ability to explore Mars from the comfort of our own couches. Though thanks to some impressive work by NASA, this futuristic tech is no longer a pipe dream.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Opportunity’s final image is a haunting panorama of the Martian surface

The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover's legacy lives on. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it's a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.