Leave this planet, even for just a few minutes.

By Stacey Leasca
February 17, 2021
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Ready to get off this planet? While space tourism isn't here quite yet, you can at least explore other worlds thanks to a new augmented reality app.

The new Mission to Mars AR app is set to launch this week, just as the Perseverance rover is also set to land on Mars, Air & Space Magazine reported. The app will also be available completely free to the public.

As the magazine explained, the app was created by the Warsaw-based studio Immersion, which developed the app alongside the Smithsonian Channel, USA Today Network's Emerging Technology, and Florida Today. Though the app is meant to be educational, it comes with plenty of elements that make learning about the martian planet fun at the same time, too.

Curiosity rover descending into Gale Crater on Mars
Credit: Steven Hobbs/Getty Images

The app uses augmented reality, the kind you've likely already played with on apps like Snapchat. As Florida Today explained, the app allows users to superimpose images of Mars as well as videos of the rover into your living room so you can test out landing the rover and navigating it around your area to see if you have what it takes to be the next NASA great.

"Being able to see the rover to scale, walk around and interact with it, users can feel as if this is actually in their living room or whatever space they're in and feeling as if they can also come back to it and you know, dig in deeper to see if they might have missed something," Ray Soto, the USA Today Networks director of emerging tech, stated. "And I think that's the thing that's going to be very exciting for our users who might have a general interest in space exploration. But something like this, I think, it really can help drive that fascination and guide users to want to learn more."

Charles Poe, the senior vice president for global production & emerging technology for the Smithsonian Channel, also shared that the team of developers is hoping the app will not only engage already enthusiastic space fans but could help others find their passions for interstellar exploration, too.

"We want to reach beyond just the space enthusiasts who are following every single aspect of the mission," Poe said. "We want to make sure everybody appreciates both the technical challenge, the extraordinary achievements that are part of this mission. And I do think that augmented reality lets you appreciate that in a completely different way."

Challenge yourself or your friends to see who can stick the best landing on Mars and make it through the "seven minutes of terror" as the rover passes through the planet's atmosphere and makes its way to the ground. (Just don't forget to deploy your parachute at just the right time.)

With the app, users can learn about the planet by analyzing rocks, working their way through the deep sand, and just stopping to take in the fantastic alien views.

Want even more intergalactic fun? Tune in to floridatoday.com/space at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, to watch as Perseverance attempts its landing live. Then, download the app and have some fun.