Astronauts Flying To Mars Could Be Kept Sane By Virtual Reality And Oculus Rift

Astronauts Flying To Mars Could Be Kept Sane By Virtual Reality And Oculus Rift

If a mission to Mars was ever greenlit, it could potentially take astronauts 300 days to get there. That doesn’t sound too bad, but now imagine being stuck on a small enclosed space for up to a year. You can’t go for a walk, you can’t go outside. Under those circumstances, how do you not go completely insane.

According to NASA, the solution might be the Oculus Rift.

NASA has just given researchers at Dartmouth College a $1.6 million grant to add new virtual reality and conflict management content to existing Virtual Space Station programs.

This essentially means they’ll be investigating the use of the Oculus Rift to create soothing environments to make astronauts keep calm when the stress of being in a confined space for almost a year.

“We will use state-of-the-art virtual reality technology to help with the effects of isolation,” says Nook Harquail, the project manager on this particular project. “We’re building all the new technology for this project and doing the interface and interaction design work from scratch. DALI lab is porting the existing content to a JavaScript game and creating both the content and framework for the virtual reality component. People have long thought that virtual reality can be therapeutic in addition to being used in gaming and entertainment.”

Lorie Loeb, the Executive Director of the lab invested in the research says the idea is to create a space that will “to trick the brain and make people feel as if they are in a variety of beautiful and calm settings, such as with their family at home or strolling on the beach.”

It sounds like Science Fiction, but it could become a reality.

The issue of mental health on long space flights has long been a concern for NASA. It looks like virtual reality could provide some sort of solution. This is important. I’ve seen Sunshine, Event Horizon or any science fiction movie for that matter. The last thing you want is some crazy astronaut wandering around your ship tearing shit up.

Via The Independent


  • Even though none of this has actually happened yet, I still find it amazing we can talk about using VR goggles to entertain astronauts on the way to Mars and have it be plausible based on current tech. This would have have been high science fiction when I were a lad.

  • I wonder about problems with spending too much time in VR messing with actual reality perception. My real-world physics are off when I have spent a lot of time in VR and my reactions are weird. Could be a problem if I was piloting an actual space ship.

  • Slightly off-topic – Sunshine was ruined by the third act. Whenever I watch it I turn it off after they find the navigator dead in the relaxation chamber. I really don’t get why they thought taking a sharp left turn into a monster movie was a good idea.

  • Put some pipes in the mouth for food and water, another in/on the privates. Then attach electroshock system to help stimulate muscles so they don’t degrade due to lack of movement/low-g, and you got yourself a 300 day cruise in VR. However you would also need to deal with blood clots, I think something can be done diet wise for that issue.

    Not entirely sure what the health condition would be of the astronauts once they get to mars, possible perplexed and mind warped due to all the VR porn they had been watching for 300days straight!

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