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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 21, 2006 0:27:14 GMT -6
Bringing Mars Down To Earth
A joystick moves the 3-D environment realistically north, south, east and west. And the presentation can be tailored to any audience. Allowing for differing attention spans, visiting elementary schoolchildren usually get a 20-minute tour of the planet, while undergraduates can explore in all directions for at least an hour.
"[Like IMAX] it has depth and dimension, but since it doesn't have the peripheral movement, it doesn't make you nauseous,” says Doug Roberts, an astronomer at Northwestern University who helped design the 3-D imaging software.
The Mars Stereo project has been the most visible. A GeoWall installed in Adler Planetarium's Cyberspace Gallery, accompanied by interactive exhibits and a life-size replica of a Mars rover, is one of the museum's most visited exhibits.
"We always get great feedback," says Mark SubbaRao, an astronomer at Adler who also works as a scientist at the University of Chicago. "People say, 'We feel like we're actually on the surface of Mars.'