The MarsVR program will be a unique multi-phase effort designed to pioneer the emerging field of CrowdExploration, which we define as the partnership between the first astronaut-explorers on Mars and VR experts and enthusiasts back on Earth.
The idea behind CrowdExploration to help the first astronaut-explorers on Mars by providing them with guidance on what features in their immediate area look interesting, based on the feedback provided by a large number of people back on Earth who are looking at the same terrain using Virtual Reality.
The CrowdExplorers back on Earth would have access to a high-resolution Virtual Reality environment created using images, video, and other data taken by rovers, orbits, and the astronauts themselves. By leveraging a multitude of interested CrowdExplorers and what they think would be best to investigate, the astronaut-explorers would be able to direct and target their activities for maximum effect.
The Mars Society aims to pioneer this method of exploration using our already existing analog research base in Utah, the Mars Desert Research Station. Since 2001, the MDRS has been host to over 190 crews comprised of over 1200 crewmembers. It’s a perfect place to experiment with this method of exploration and, conversely, this is the type of human factors challenge that the MDRS program is designed for.