Insights EDU

Walk On Mars: For the First Time Ever You Can Explore the Real Martian Surface in VR

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Jason McEwen | Founder & CEO | Kagenova

30 Apr 2021 | 3 min read

Human Space Exploration

Man first walked on the Moon in 1969.

And most recently in 1972.

It has been almost 50 years since a human set foot on the moon. But that is about to change!

Humans will be returning to the Moon soon. NASA has recently announced it has selected SpaceX to send astronauts back to the Moon as part of the Artemis programme. According to NASA:

‘[They] will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.’

This will be the next step in preparation for the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars. For the first time human civilization will be interplanetary!

Red Moon - maybe that's how Moon look like when you walk on Mars

Photo by Luca R on Unsplash


Before humans reach Mars in person, reconnaissance missions will teach us a lot about the red planet. The NASA Perseverance rover landed in the Jezero Crater on Mars just a couple of months ago in February. It is already sending back important information about the Martian surface.

Perseverance will search for Martian environments that may have supported life in the past. It will seek out evidence of former microbial life whilst testing the Martian atmosphere in preparation for future crewed missions. We cannot visit Mars ourselves yet. But what we can do is to visit the red planet virtually through imagery sent back to Earth by the Perseverance rover.

Perseverance has a 360° camera on board that captures full 360° panoramic images of the surrounding environments. The captured 360° images can then be viewed using a virtual reality (VR) headset. Yet, such an experience is quite limited. The key issue lies in the images sent by Perseverance. They provide only a single viewpoint. When viewing the images in VR, you’re frozen in one position and are not able to walk about; this severely limits the sense of realism.

Travel to Mars with AI

Thanks to the new advances in artificial intelligence (AI), it’s now possible to virtually walk around and explore Mars. And we don’t mean computer-generated imagery (CGI) of Mars, but the real Martian surface!

Kagenova, a startup company specialising in AI for VR, have developed novel geometric AI technology to turn a single 360° image into a 3D environment that you can walk about and explore in VR.

Using Kagenova’s copernic360 technology, it’s possible to synthesise novel viewpoints of a scene from a single 360° image or video. By rendering these novel viewpoints on the fly as you move about, copernic360 lets you move within the virtual world.

Walk On Mars

Leveraging copernic360 technology, Kagenova has just released free apps to allow you — for the first time — to virtually walk on the real Martian surface as captured by the Perseverance rover!

With the Walk On Mars apps, you can virtually explore Mars using a VR headset or your mobile phone. The VR app is available on the Side Quest store and the mobile app is available on the Google Play store.

In VR, you are transported to Mars and immersed in the Martian world. With Walk on Mars, you can walk about and explore the Jezero Crater and surroundings. As Perseverance continues its exploration of Mars more 360° images will become available. This will enable VR users to explore Mars even further without leaving their home planet.

In the mobile experience, your phone acts as a portal into the Martian world. On the phone screen, you’ll see a window into a part of the Martial world. As you rotate the phone, you’ll uncover a different part of the world. You can then walk around with your phone to explore the Martian surface. Imagine the endless opportunities for exploration!

Humans are preparing to make their way to Mars as early as 2026. But why wait until then, when you can explore the red planet here and now.

Walk On Mars gives you a chance to not only explore a scientifically accurate version of Mars from your home, but it will also make you an astronaut who travelled to Mars before anyone else. You are now part of history!


You read more about Kagenova’s revolutionary copernic360 technology here.

About the author:

Jason McEwen is Founder & CEO of Kagenova, a startup company specialised in deep tech for virtual and augmented reality. He is also Professor of Astrostatistics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) at University College London (UCL). As part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Planck team he won the Gruber Prize in Cosmology in 2018 for his contributions to fundamental advances in our understanding of the Universe.