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Google launches virtual reality experience to take users to Mars

If you’ve been thinking about escaping Earth, this is your chance.

A project between Google and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab lets ordinary users explore the surface of Mars. Access Mars takes images from the Mars Curiosity Rover, which landed on the red planet on Aug. 2012, and makes them into a 360°-view of the planet. Using technology similar to Google Maps Street View, any ordinary wanna-be space explorer can walk on the fourth planet from the sun.

Access Mars looks best using virtual reality technology like Oculus or Google’s Cardboard, but it is also available to view on desktop and mobile devices.

The site contains an introduction explaining Curiosity’s trip to the red planet before landing where the rover landed in 2012. A map appears to let users learn about certain immediate locations and call up a map to move to certain spotlight points.

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You can see the actual dunes, hills and rocky outcrops of the planet, as well as learning, along with Curiosity, of the planet’s ability to sustain life. One area where the Curiosity Rover explored shows evidence of water billions of years ago, suggesting Mars’ life-sustaining capabilities have changed over time.

Google and NASA have teamed up to produce an online VR experience from the surface of Mars that will continue to be updated by the roaming Curiousity rover.

Google and NASA have teamed up to produce an online VR experience from the surface of Mars that will continue to be updated by the roaming Curiousity rover.

(Google / NASA)

Sometimes Curiosity even takes selfies — to check for wear and tear and other signs of aging on the vehicle.

While Curiosity’s mission was meant to last only two years, it is now indefinitely dispatched to the deserted planet.

The experience will update the data every few days or weeks to show what Curiosity has been up to.

A new Mars 2020 rover is still in the works and, of course, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars by 2024.

In July, Google launched a microsite to take users inside the International Space Station using Street View technology.

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