Between 06- 14 December 2014 Mars Planet  has conducted simulation of a Mars exploration mission in the framework of the Mars City program

Mission aims

MARS CITY  is a program spearheaded by the Italian Mars Society (IMS) which main goal is to provide an effective test bed for field operation studies in preparation for manned missions to Mars.

Preliminarily to its construction, IMS has started the development of an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) simulation of the MARS CITY  Station (V-MARS). The major advantage of such virtualization is that it will be possible to undertake training sessions with a crew that can interact with its future environment before the actual station is built. This way a more effective design of the station and associated missions and a strong reduction of costs could be obtained. The main objective of this activity will be the achievement of adequate fidelity simulations and validation of the data obtained during the training sessions so that they can be used for the design of the station itself.

V-MARS-14 was designed to be:

  • an opportunity to review the MARS  Habitat Design
  • a platform for the establishment of the knowledge, methods, and standards for the design of an integrated, autonomous, crew health management system.
  • a platform for Scientific missions planning / Crew training
  • serving as a strong outreach opportunity

 

Technical Description

The V-MARS infrastructure is composed by 4 virtual stations, each of them based on the following key elements:

  • Immersive virtual simulations running on top of the Blender Game Engine (BGE) and supporting a 3D virtual reality headset (Oculus Rift)
  • Full body and hand gesture tracking via a Kinect device
  • Integration of an omnidirectional treadmill

The 4 stations are linked via a dedicated multiplayer support able to synchronize the events happening in the four simulation nodes. The Mumble voice chat software is used to insure the overall voice communication infrastructure.

 

Mission Science Agenda

The table below report a short summary of science activities performed during V-MARS-14

HABITAT  MARS  Habitat Design Review. For this first rotation, the MARS habitat design will still be in a prototyping stage. The Crew feedback has been instrumental for the definition of a more refined design.
V-MARS STATION Feedback on current V-MARS  station design
COMMUNICATION Audio and video communication setup and test
HEALTH MON Crew health monitoring
TELEMEDICINE Simulated telemedical support session
ATV DESIGN Virtual Reality based design of an ATV vehicle
SIM / EVA Simulation Scenarios / EVA missions.
REDUCED GRAVITY Experimentation has been made on simulating Martian reduced gravity environments via extensions of the Motivity omnidirectional treadmill
ANALOG SPACE SUIT A set of technical tests aiming at assessing the use of an analog space suit during the virtual simulation.