VR is under consideration by space agencies as a useful tool for future Mars missions. It may help end the future astronauts’ isolation on the surface of the Red Planet.
NASA is ready for some action. By the time 2030 arrives in all its splendor, astronauts will prepare to head for space missions to the Red Planet. The journey to Mars will be a harrowing task since the distance is so great. Also the conditions in which these brave astronauts will have to survive on its surface are of such extreme isolation and quarantine that they will need certain strategies to overcome their loneliness.
Holographic recordings of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and vocal artist/comedian Reggie Watts have been prepared. These will be presented to the astronauts’ senses using VR (Virtual Reality). This strategy could help ameliorate the feelings of cabin fever some of these astronauts will most likely face when they enter the Martian arena.
The technology allows photorealistic holograms of individual human beings to appear to the VR device wearer like they were standing right in front of him or her. It is magic realism at its best. “As humans embrace the extraordinary commitment to leave earth and make Mars their home, virtual reality will be a very important way of staying in touch,” said Dr. Buzz Aldrin.
“What could be more stimulating to students, scientists, and political leaders on Earth than to experience life on another a planet, and for the astronauts journeying to Mars to receive messages from back home? I’m honored to leave my message behind for these courageous men and women who will go down in history in a way that no one ever has before.”
This simulation study began in August of last year. The conditions on Mars were reproduced on earth and the experimentation reached its denouement in August of 2016. The role of VR in countering sensory deprivation and social segregation was very real indeed. Human beings do not show healthy signs when they are exposed to long term solitary confinement. We are a gregarious and social species that likes to have friends, love others and make love not to mention enjoy good company time after time. The negative effects of thriving in alien worlds where no one comes and goes like in the absurdist drama “Waiting for Godot” are something we have hardly faced before. What psychological black hole it will land the astronauts in is a matter of conjecture.
“Time and the iconic LIFE brand have a celebrated history of covering space and there could not be a more fitting home for ‘Messages to Mars’ than LIFE VR,” said Mia Tramz, Managing Editor of LIFE VR. “Sharing these messages from Buzz Aldrin and others on our platform is another example of the powerful experiences and unique storytelling we’re bringing to viewers.”
“In 20 years when mankind takes the bold leap of journeying to Mars, it’s hard to imagine that human communication will be as confined to the flat screen,” said Linc Gasking, cofounder and CEO of 8i. “We’re excited to enable future generations of astronauts to communicate with loved ones, relive memories, and experience archived messages from historical figures like Buzz Aldrin through photorealistic 3D holograms that feel as if they’re in the same room. Buzz is now a pioneer of both outer space and virtual space.
Virtual Reality is the best means of combating this “only lonely” syndrome. Currently, NASA and Sift are combining their resources to build such VR devices that will prove to be useful in the Mars missions that lie in the near future. It is just a matter of time before human beings dare to break the barrier of interplanetary travel and head out for the Red Planet. Nobody would want that mission to be a failure due to any astronaut losing his or her mind in the conditions of extreme scarcity and loneliness on the Martian terrain.
“Scientific studies in behavioral health research are vital in supporting our astronauts in future Long Duration Exploration Missions,” said Dr. Lauren B. Leveton, Ph.D. Element Scientist, Behavioral Health and Performance, Human Research Program, Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division/SK, NASA JSC.
“It has long been understood and empirically supported that humans do not respond well psychologically to long periods of confinement, and one of our goals at SIFT is to study how technologies can be used to counter negative effects,” said Peggy Wu, senior research scientist at SIFT. “We believe the way virtual reality can capture your senses can help astronauts feel more connected to Earth, and offer ways to combat the sensory monotony that result from such prolonged durations of isolation. The preliminary results of this ongoing study has been promising and we’re looking forward to extensive data analysis.”
“Holograms provide a powerful interface for human communication as it gives the viewer the ability to connect with another person in VR or AR as if they were in the same room,” said Linc Gasking, cofounder and CEO of 8i.
“We’re thrilled to partner with NASA and Sift on this pilot and honored to build an archive of inspirational holographic messages for future Mars mission astronauts, starting with Buzz Aldrin and Reggie Watts. Our team at 8i is incredibly inspired by the potential use of our technology to give future Mars astronauts the ability to connect with loved ones back home,” Gasking added.