Martian Monday: Get Curious With New Rover Simulator And "Mars Trek" Program

With all the talk of space crabs and ghost ladies inhabiting Mars these days, perhaps you'd like to indulge more of your own curiosity about what's really happening on the Red Planet.  Now, your curiosity can be satiated with...well, Curiosity.

No, you don't have to hack the rover...NASA has combined all of its data for your pioneering perusal!
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According to Engadget, NASA has released a new program that allows users to view panoramic images captured by the Martian rover Curiosity.  The simulator allows you to explore the areas of Mars that the rover has traversed and documented, as well as examining parts of the rover itself. The Experience Curiosity simulator includes various camera angles, manual controls, and an immersive guide as to the Martian topography and rover elements.  The entire program is free and works on any internet-enabled operating system.  That's right, you can go for a virtual joyride around Mars, right now!

Rock the red rocks with the virtual Curiosity rover!
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Another NASA-approved Martian mission is Mars Trek, which is an interactive Google-Earth-style map of Mars that utilizes 50 years of NASA's research on the Red Planet.  Various viewpoints in 2-D and 3-D are shown, including bookmarks that chronicle the landing site of the Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and Sojourner rovers, the Phoenix lander, and major geological features of note.  Calculations regarding different aspects of the terrain can be made in-program, including pertinent data on elevation and sun angle effects.  The Mars Trek program is so comprehensive, NASA is using it to help chart the landing of their next rover in 2020!

Unfortunately, it's still too early to use Mars Trek to stake out mining or homestead claims.
That crater does look like it'd make for a nice skate park, though.
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This tool has opened my eyes as to how we should first approach roaming on another world, and now the public can join in on the fun,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington, explained in a NASA press release. “Our robotic scientific explorers are paving the way, making great progress on the journey to Mars. Together, humans and robots will pioneer Mars and the solar system."

For now, armchair pioneering is still pioneering!  In the words of Kipling, "Go you there!"

"'Something lost behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you.  Go!'"
-Rudyard Kipling, "The Explorer" (1898)
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