Google has teamed up with NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to deliver a VR tour of Mars to the masses with a project the company and agencies call Access Mars. In fact, the tour utilizes the same 3D models of the red planet that JPL created from the information collected by its Curiosity rover, which first landed on the red planet back in August of 2012. Moreover, the project was created using Google's WebVR platform, so even those who don't have ready access to a VR headset won't be left out of the experience – whether they happen to be browsing on a laptop, desktop, or phone.
Upon landing at the Access Mars page and clicking the "Enter 360" button, users are greeted with a brief history of where the data for the experience was drawn from and the project itself. There are some interesting wire-frame animations tied to that as well – which continue to show while the interactive part of the experience loads, so users shouldn't be too concerned if everything looks a bit odd for a few moments. Users start the voice-guided tour at the spot where Curiosity landed and can navigate the landscape through clicks or by looking and using a VR headset's dedicated button, as explained by a card that appears directly in front of the user. However, there also are dozens of other objects to click on for in-depth explanations of the surrounding environment and points of interest. In addition to the rover's landing site, three additional locales are available to explore as well. They include Pahrump Hills, Marias Pass, and Murray Buttes.
Beyond all of that, and as part of the partnership, Google was also able to update its own Mars tour through Google Expeditions – giving educators another way to get their students interested in planetary science. The update adds highlights from the Access Mars project to the app's Mars tour. That's accessible through the Expeditions application on either the Google Play Store for Android or Apple's App Store for iOS. For convenience, that can be found through the Google Play button below. In the meantime, anybody who is interested in checking out the full experience simply needs to navigate to the source link below to jump right in.