My Encounter with Curiosity, the Mars Rover

As I came out of the number 1 subway station in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday evening I encountered a scene that was different to what I was used to.


Instinct had me enter, but I couldn’t stay long because I was already late for an evening lecture at the genome center right across the street. So I rushed asking for details and deciding I was going to come back another day.

Turns out that between October 26 – 29, National Geographic hosted a free, public expo called ‘Experience Mars: IMSF Recruitment Center’ at Varick Street & Canal Street in New York. One of their purposes was to bring awareness on the upcoming (November) global series about colonizing the red planet. As per one of their instagram posts:

“Experience for yourself first hand like I did yesterday, the first-ever commercial use of a cable robot virtual reality simulator, simulating what it would be like to land on Mars.”

Try an authentic Fusion VR Martian surface walk in 38 percent gravity via the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, where the world’s first and only treadmill using NASA based anti-gravity technology meets the most detailed and accurate Mars VR experience developed with real orbital and rover mission data.

Race to complete seemingly simple tasks against the jarring resistance of working and building a human outpost on the Martian surface.”

And so I returned on Friday afternoon.


This is Curiosity, the rover which is on the surface of Mars, still exploring after successfully completing its mission in 2014:



Here is Spirit & Opportunity (not the best view, though):


And Sojourner, which is currently inactive; it landed on Mars in 1997 and traveled circa 100m (330 feet) in ~5 months:


The treadmills that simulate Mars gravity conditions. The VR headset enhances the experience:


Other related ‘things’ enthusiasts can try out:


These space suits are for expo purposes only. They look and feel (from the exterior) ‘kindof comfy’. They say you’d somehow ‘walk’ into them, making the entire suit-up process fast and convenient:


I think we’ll meet this crew in the upcoming series:


They gave away the November issue of National Geographic titled ‘Race to the Red Planet’, which contains, among others, a big map with a plan to colonize mars. They also offered us free cardboard VR goggles which we can use to play in VR here (and not only).


I only played for 1-2 minutes on site, but I’m really excited to experiment with these goggles once I can spare some free time.

L.E.: I got to play with the goggles for an hour last night. I am humbled. VR, in my view, will change the world. I can only guess the amazing experience you’d have with more advanced VR sets, given the awesome experience I can have with these cardboard ones on my phone. Exploring remote places in VR is awesome.

You can play the simulation without the goggles if you select ‘standard mode’.

To get a feeling of VR, video search for ‘best cardboard vr apps’. You can get cardboard VR goggles for ~$10.

And here’s the map with the colonization plan. Notice how big it is as I compare it with a pack of gum:


Last but not least, the premiere of the series is November the 14th, but it seems that you can watch the first episode now. Enjoy!


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