Oculus Rift technology is starting to prove itself more and more useful. NASA is already applying this virtual reality headset in its research.
Even for NASA, with its huge potential in finance and fundamental research, it is immensely complicated to search for life on other planets. Overloaded with numerous equipment, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is as difficult to manage as is possible to imagine. JWST itself is as tall as a four-storied building. In addition, it’s obvious that in conditions of an open space anything can go wrong.
That is why virtual reality – with the help of Oculus Rift headset – can become an ideal testing ground for space engineering. Apparently, JWST couldn’t have missed such a chance for revolutionary innovation and launched pilot tests.
A new space observatory of NASA, which is supposed to be launched in October 2018, will continue the work, started by Kepler telescope (launched in 2009).
In order to collect more data this ship is equipped with unique technologies: 18 hexagonal gold mirrors shaped as honeycomb collecting light (in the form of heat) and specialized sunproof visor that will keep tools cool.
Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which was more like an Earth satellite, Webb will travel a million miles away from our planet and will be collecting information in the form of photons. Currently, three-quarters of the hardware are completed.
Alberto Conti, innovation manager and astrophysicist at Northrop Grumann Aerospace Systems (which is the main contractor for JWST in the area of design and construction) speaks about the chances for a virtual reality and Oculus Rift to impact astronauts’ work.
“We are very interested in testing Oculus Rift”, continues Conti. “We will try to work with immersion in virtual reality to create scenarios: just imagine that you can simulate the behavior of the whole system. We are constantly moving in this direction”.
“Certainly, we have a 360-degree simulator, but Oculus is in many ways better. It has better hardware which changes the whole paradigm. You can plunge, you can touch it, it’s beautiful – and you’re still in the real world. The more complex JWST tools are, the more important modeling will become “.
Conti also believes that Oculus can help scientists in viewing large amounts of data using gestures only, and engineers in checking virtual instruments in a couple of hours, rather than during six months.
“I think we are witnessing how all these things are becoming commercially available and very cheap”, says Conti. “There’s going to be an explosion in manufacturing of such tools. And Oculus is very close to this”.