Almost "live" wrap-around
TV pictures from Mars are not currently possible. But plans are
underway to send a series of telecom orbiters specifically for
increasing the amount of band-width between Mars and Earth. Theoretically,
a rover equipped with a 360 degree stereo HDTV system could send
back continuous 3D images. By building a darkened, circular "Marsarium
Theater", the entire panorama could be seen with special
glasses - as it's coming back direct from Mars. The image at
the top of this page is a simplified view of a man viewing a
wrap-around stereo panorama. (no, the scene is not continuous,
it's just an example). If you saw the 360 degree movie "America
the Beautiful" at
Disneyland, you can imagine how extraordinary the possibilities
are for such a Virtual Presence experience. The sounds of Mars
could also be piped in, perhaps, from the rovers omnidirectional
microphones. No need to simulate the freezing Martian temperatures,
though. The Internet of the future might also make some of this
experience possible at home, possibly. Keep in mind that this
only an idea of mine, not a program under development.
But if such a system could be used
on Mars, it could be used for other planets or moons someday.
This is one way of fulfilling NASA's goal of "establishing
a virtual presence throughout the solar system". Would it
useful for the scientists? Maybe not. Expensive? Undoubtedly.
The next best thing to being there? It just might be!