NASA Using VR to Explore New Planets

NASA's new Exoplanet Travel Bureau launched six exoplanets that can be explored via desktop, mobile, or VR.

Ramy Caspi
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NASA’s new Exoplanet Travel Bureau division at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California gives would-be space explorers the ability to investigate foreign planets through the use of VR, desktop, and mobile devices.

According to Digital Trends, the images NASA uses for this project aren’t actual photos but rather artistic renders based on the Kepler Space Telescope’s exoplanet observations. Using these renders, viewers can go on “intergalactic vacations” through interactive VR experience, with 360-degree views available across all platforms (PC, mobile, VR). 

“We live in a universe teeming with exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. Unfortunately, even the nearest exoplanets are light-years away, so sending spacecraft and humans to these intriguing worlds remains a distant dream,” NASA explained in a recent press release

Meanwhile, a blog post from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory noted the VR version of Kepler-186f comes with a special feature, as the space agency’s visualization tool allows viewers to see how the sky’s appearance from the planet’s surface changes depending on whether the planet has an atmosphere or not.

“Because Kepler-186f and the majority of Kepler-discovered planets are so distant, it is currently impossible to detect their atmospheres—if they exist at all—or characterize their atmospheric properties,” mentioned NASA scientist Martin Still.