Big Deal Media

K-12 Technology
space app science

Mar 15, 2021 2021-03-15

Mobile Learning

Portal to Mars in Augmented Reality

With the new Mission to Mars app for iOS, users can drive a rover, walk the Martian surface, and play robot geologist, all in augmented reality. The Mission to Mars app offers seven experiences, starting with an overview of Martian geography. Students can spin the globe floating in front of them to inspect—or read short blurbs about—the planet’s frozen polar caps and vast canyons. The gamified experience lets students guide Perseverance through its “seven minutes of terror”—NASA’s semiofficial term for a Mars landing—by timing the parachute deployment and retro-rocket firing. Students can then guide the rover from rock to rock, zapping the rocks with a laser to analyze their contents while being careful not to crash or get stuck in the sand. They can even fly the small Ingenuity helicopter stowed on Perseverance. Students can also view short videoclips on topics ranging from navigation of the robot to the orbiters circling Mars; or experience the launch of another rocket (Atlas); or discover, in a module called “Little Green Men,” how Mars has been portrayed in science fiction. As the rover keeps roaming over the next few years, the app developers plan to include actual, 360-degree imagery from the landing site in Jezero Crater. Cost: Free

Plus: Portal to Mars for Android is the same idea. First students position the entry portal in their playing space. When they walk through the portal, holding their phone in front of them, they seem to be walking into the Martian desert. The landscape fills in with detail as they walk, so they can keep wandering. They will even come across a future Mars colony. If they look back, and in the distance, they will see their original environment through the open portal. After learning about a rover’s instruments, students can drive it around using a circular “joystick” that they move with their finger. They have the option to drive any of NASA’s Mars rovers, past or present, and record the trip on video or stills to share. Cost: Free

Robots/Robotics Science Gamification/Game-Based Learning

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