nVidia has announced that it has initiated a co-operation with NASA and the exploration of Mars. The company’s graphics technology and know-how is used to recreate and illustrate the surface of the planet and to plan missions for NASA’s Mars module Spirit. This is done by analyzing the data that Spirit continuously transmits to Earth and subsequently build up a photorealistic virtual reality. It’s probable that the second NASA rover named Opportunity, Spirit’s late twin, will use the same technology when it lands on January the 24th.

Laurence Edwards, team lead for 3D visualization and surface reconstruction from NASA Ames Research Centre, has touched the topic. This is his comments:


”Nvidia technology allows NASA to visualize the Martian terrain in photorealistic virtual reality, greatly enhancing scientists’ understanding of the environment and streamlining analysis. With this capability, scientists step into a visually engaging model of the planet’s surface and interactively study multiple perspectives–front, back, side views–of every object the rovers investigate to fully explore all options for rover routes and experiments.”

Today, with this new technology, NASA can simulate the lighting and surface conditions expected on Mars when an experiment is to be conducted. If a rock will cast a shadow, obscuring a feature of interest, scientists on the ground will know about this effect in advance and plan around it. In the future, we envision scientists sitting within a large wrap-around display and programming rover movements and experiments using simple touch-screen or voice commands.”

Thanks to Bearznail for the tip.

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