I hope NASA does more of these.
The agency’s science missions always have an impressive “education and public outreach” campaign, which means we’re treated to lots of artist’s renderings and animations showing the spacecraft exploring this or that planet. And they’re usually great.
The recent Juno arrival at Jupiter was no exception. But this being the early days of virtual reality, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory also made this short 360° video showing the spacecraft in orbit, which you can watch either in Google Cardboard or the (more expensive) Samsung Gear.
It’s simple, but well done. The explanations are spoken, not written. (I’m always amazed at VR videos that begin with a paragraph of text. Why are we wearing these goofy goggles to read?) Watching giant Jupiter loom above you in VR is a lot more affecting than seeing it on a flat screen. And best of all is the part, about two-thirds of the way through, where we go inside the spacecraft to see its components. That’s a good use of VR, and a much better way to illustrate the guts of a machine than any 2D drawing I’ve seen.
Good job, JPL. Let’s hope this becomes a standard kind of visualization for all space missions.
Note: If playing the above video on your phone or clicking on the YouTube link don’t work, or you don’t see the cardboard icon at the bottom of the YouTube window, open the video directly in your phone’s YouTube app by tapping the “share” symbol [arrow], then the ... [three dots] symbol. And be sure to set it for the highest quality.