"Previously, our Mars explorers have been stuck on one side of a computer screen. This tool gives them the ability to explore the rover's surroundings much as an Earth geologist would do field work here on our planet," said Norris.
In 2009, I pondered the ramifications for virtual reality in ‘manned' exploration of the solar system. If the data is thorough enough, and if the visualization/feedback technology is sufficiently sophisticated, perhaps we really are at the dawn of exploring a high-fidelity virtual Mars.
NEWS: Virtual Reality Enters a New Dimension
This OnSight project will put human explorers on an augmented reality Mars; though rudimentary, it's not a huge leap of the imagination to think that, in the not-so-distant future, exploring Mars could be a fully-immersive experience.
And that creates an interesting, if troublesome, question: If we can explore other worlds without leaving our offices, why send humans to Mars (and beyond) at all? One could imagine the first bootprint on Mars will be created by a NASA researcher, but ‘Mars' will be a simulation and the researcher wouldn't have to leave their desk. If the data collected, and the computer simulation is so detailed, would it even matter if the researcher isn't physically on Mars?