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January 21, 2023

Augmented Reality at Home: You Can Too!

Embedded in an excellent Wall Street Journal article about NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity and its astounding feats on and above the surface of Mars — and what this portends for future robotic missions to other planets and moons in our solar system — is a feature that lets you view NASA's upcoming Dragonfly Explorer helicopter, slated for a 2027 launch to Saturn's moon Titan, in augmented reality on your iOS device (iPhone or iPad) as it would appear wherever in the world you happen to be.

I was at home (doh!) — where you'll find me for all but 4-5 hours/MONTH — with Vanta around sunset yesterday when we powered up (top).

This.is.amazing.

Who needs AR/VR/MR Apple glasses that cost upwards of $3,000 and may or may not be released real soon now?

My YouTube description of our mission:

From the Wall Street Journal:

Dragonfly is a nuclear-powered helicopter in development at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

In 2027, NASA plans to launch Dragonfly toward Titan, where the atmosphere is four times denser and the gravity seven times weaker than Earth's.

Under those conditions, a modest nudge from Dragonfly's eight rotors should be enough to send the half-ton science lab soaring through the sky.

"Titan's just calling out to be flown on," says APL's Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle, a planetary scientist at APL and the principal investigator for the Dragonfly mission.

Plans call for Dragonfly to take to the air once a month for nearly three years, logging up to 10 miles per flight, to explore a landscape dotted with liquid methane lakes, ice boulders, and dunes made of grains of tar.

Each time it touches down in a new spot, the octocopter will use its suite of instruments to assess the local environment, seeking out carbon compounds of the sort that scientists believe might be precursors of life.

If a location seems particularly interesting, Dragonfly will collect surface samples using a pair of drills.

"We want to understand the chemical steps occurring on Titan, ones that may be like the early chemical steps that occurred here on Earth" before the first living things appeared, Dr. Turtle said.

January 21, 2023 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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