Go to Mars in VrChat:
NASA Perseverance Rover on Mars was a project initiated and led by Scout Windsor. When the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars on February 18th, 2021, Scout decided to make a VRChat virtual world where visitors could experience standing next to (or on!) a life-size model of Perseverance. Virtual reality is especially good at providing a sense of scale. The initial world was completed and published in 3 days. Scout was joined by myself, John Craig, and Kevin Ang to build out other parts of the world. I joined the project to contribute to the interactivity and learning design. I also composed the background music for the world and did animations and sound design, including wind sounds, Perseverance vehicle driving sounds, and the helicopter, Ingenuity’s, sounds and animations.
Experiential / Interactive Design
The primary goal of the virtual world was to give visitors a place where they could experience the scale of the Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity helicopter. We added to the world by creating an info display area with some of the first pictures that Perseverance took of Mars. The display also includes a robot dog to greet people in the area, and a model-size, turning globe of Mars. The world also includes a “drive-in” theatre where visitors can sit on top of Perseverance rovers and watch on a giant screen a clip from NASA of the Perseverance landing. A major highlight of the world is the driveable Perseverance Rovers. We have 4 rovers that can be driven across the landscape and raced against each other, and 1 rover that drives at the accurate speed of Perseverance to give visitors a sense of how Perseverance actually moves across Mars (it’s very slow).
When designing the music, inspirations included National Geographic documentaries and science fiction movie soundscapes. I wanted to create a background track that was chill and supported a sense of vastness but would also contain moments of curiosity with experimental sounds. You can hear the music at the link below:
In creating the sounds for Mars, I used NASA’s public education website where they explain how sound would be perceived on Mars. Because Mars has a different atmosphere than Earth, we would experience sounds slightly differently: a quieter, more muffled version. I used this science of sound to alter the frequency range and attenuation of sounds in the virtual world to create a soundscape that would be closer to what we might experience on Mars. You can hear the driveable rover sounds in the video below. You can also hear the special, “Drum and Space” music track that I made. It is a drum & bass remix of the original music made for the world that uses the sample of the very first sound recordings from Mars captured by the Perseverance rover’s microphone to form the bass line. It also contains samples of Dr. Swati Mohan, the Control Operations Lead for the NASA Perseverance mission.
To hear just the Perseverance Drum & Space on Mars track, listen here:
In July 2021, NASA Perseverance Rover on Mars was used by a NASA engineer for a live in-VR and broadcast educational lecture about the NASA Perseverance mission and the work she did on the rover’s camera systems.
Japanese Television Program Laugh DX (笑DX)
In June 2022, NASA Perseverance Rover on Mars was also visited during a Japanese television program broadcast on Fuji Television Network called Laugh DX (笑DX).