A long-running “Mars” base here on Earth will get a special virtual-reality upgrade to help its crews, if a crowdfunding campaign goes as planned. The Mars Society, a nonprofit organization that advocates putting boots on the Red Planet, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a tool called MarsVR.

Once operational, MarsVR will aid crewmembers performing simulated Red Planet missions at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in rural Utah, organization representatives said. “Phase 1 of the MarsVR program will focus on designing training simulations,” the society wrote in a statement on Kickstarter.

“Since every moment at MDRS is valuable, just like actual astronauts working in space, the Mars Society wants its crew members to make the most of their time ‘on Mars.’ We will also open-source the key elements of the platform so that the general public can freely make use of it to experience human Mars exploration.”

As of today (May 1), the campaign has reached about 50 percent of its $27,500 goal, with a month of fundraising to go. MDRS has been hosting crews since 2002, for missions that generally last two weeks.

MarsVR will include a simulation of the habitat and its surrounding environment, within 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers). If more funds are raised beyond the $27,500 goal, the society plans to expand the simulation beyond that 1-mile radius. Read more from space.com…

thumbnail courtesy of space.com