Virtual Reality has become greater than just a platform for gaming. With applications in engineering, healthcare and tourism, VR has become a gateway for mankind to step into a digital frontier. Speaking of walking into the future, space travel has always been synonymous with the future, with movies of the 80s and 90s depicting the future to be all about flying cars and colonizing Mars. With the VR technology, that too is becoming possible, as NASA is using VR to help with their mission across the final frontier.
From redefining the understanding of how our galaxy works to exploring other galaxies, it’s safe to say that NASA is utilizing VRs true potential. Astronomer Marc Kuchner and researcher Susan Higashio have obtained a new perspective on the stars’ motions,by using customized 3D VR simulation that animates the speed and direction of 4 million stars in the local Milky Way neighborhood. According to Hagashio “Rather than look up one database and then another database, why not fly there and look at them all together,”
Kuchner and Hagashio’s discovery convinced Goddard Chief Technologist Peter Hughes, who saw the potential of VR to aid in scientific discovery when he began funding engineer Thomas Grubb’s VR project under the center’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program and NASA’s Center Innovation Fund. “All of our technologies enable the scientific exploration of our universe in some way,” Hughes said. “For us, scientific discovery is one of the most compelling reasons to develop an AR/VR capability.”
For scientists and engineers at NASA, the idea of being able to present their findings in a virtual realm was exciting. And so like Grubb, Kuchner is also a firm believer of the fact that VR headsets will be a more common science tool in the future.
“Why shouldn’t that be a research tool that’s on the desk of every astrophysicist,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of time before this becomes commonplace.”
With the pandemic restricting research projects, VR based research might be sooner than we think.
- It’s not long before NASA makes all the space movies a reality with the help of VR.
- Ready your spacesuits.