In the photo above, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Erisa Hines of JPL use Mixed Reality (MR) to explore the surface of Mars. The images of Mars are delivered by the NASA rover Curiosity.

MR combines the best features of AR and VR and aims for a seamless blend of the physical and digital world.

While the MR experience of exploring the Martian surface in the virtual presence of an Apollo 11 astronaut is a great attraction to  visitors of NASA, the facility is also of great use to geologists here on Earth who want to study the Martian surface.

Using MR scientists and engineers can walk to a feature on the virtual surface and get a personal view of what interests them. The tool allows them to essentially meet on Mars (using avatars) and point to features, walk up to them and discuss their understanding of the science behind what they are looking at. This technology can also be deployed to other inaccessible environments such as the ocean floor or deep inside volcanoes.

On a smaller scale, medical students can gather around an image captured using CT or MRI scanners, and using MR can take the image apart layer by layer to better understand the anatomy.


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