Now you can explore Mars in all of its 360-degree glory

8 Feb 2016

NASA has released a short video that allows you to explore Mars in 360 degrees. Your Curiosity Rover-eye view, right to your computer or phone.

The beauty of the internet largely lies in its community. If you need advice on something, tips on how to fix things or even ideas of where to go, the internet has all the answers.

So too, it seems, when NASA posts interactives.

A few days ago, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Facebook account posted a short video, using a composite of some of the rover’s photography, that allows users to scroll around and view the Mars surface.

It didn’t work perfectly, though. Luckily, YouTube user Daniel Holton got to work on a fix.

“If you watched it, you may have noticed an Inception-like distortion to the horizon,” says Holton of the original. “This was caused because the imagery captured did not cover the full sphere, forcing the video to be stretched to fill the missing areas. So I decided to fix the video.”

However, NASA’s not one for resting on its laurels and here, posted today, is its own version. And it looks good enough to try out in VR.

A busy Curiosity Rover

Curiosity has been a busy rover of late, investigating sand dunes on Mars. NASA is trying to find out how wind manipulates sand on the Red Planet.

The Bagnold Dunes, which is where Curiosity is currently roving, are active. Sequential images taken from orbit over the course of multiple years show that some of these dunes are migrating by as much as a yard, or metre, per Earth year.

The money shot would be capturing a sand slide in action, but Curiosity hasn’t quite captured anything like that yet – NASA expects this is due to the time of year.

As a celebration of Curiosity’s third birthday on Mars last August, NASA released a 3D simulator to let us investigate the planet.

The 3D Mars simulator is called Mars Trek and is a free, web-based application that provides high-quality, detailed visualisations of the planet using real data from 50 years of NASA exploration.

Main Mars image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic