Most of us will never set foot on Mars, but thanks to NASA’s unceasing public outreach campaign, we can all imagine what that would be like. To commemorate the three year anniversary of the Curiosity rover’s Martian landing, NASA has unveiled two new web tools that allow you to explore the Red Planet’s surface and ride alongside the much-anthropomorphised rover.
First, there’s Mars Trek, which offers detailed visualisations of the Martian surface, drawing on decades of scientific exploration. This tool is pretty sophisticated: You can overlay a bunch of different datasets, identify past rover landing sites, and perform distance calculations and elevation plotting. Amateur geologists can ogle over Candor Chasma and Olympus Mons. Would-be colonists can hunt for the perfect craters to set up their space pods.
Screen capture from NASA’s new Experience Curiosity website. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech
For those who’d like a travel buddy, NASA built Experience Curiosity, which allows you to journey along with the rover as it bumbles across the rugged, ruddy terrain. This tool has more of a video game feel to it: Users can manipulate the rover’s tools and see Mars in first person mode through each of its cameras. NASA is not responsible for any giant space crabs that attack you while operating the rover.
Top image: Screencapture from Mars Trek, via NASA / JPL-Caltech