Printer Friendly

NVIDIA Helps NASA Reconstruct Mars Rover Data in Virtual Reality


NVIDIA Corporation:

Andrew Humber
European PR Manager

Press Relations:

Ciarán Brennan or Clive Gorman
Bastion (NVIDIA PR)
Tel: +44 (20) 7490 1323


NVIDIA Helps NASA Reconstruct Mars Rover Data in Virtual Reality

NVIDIA Quadro Graphics Power 3D Photorealistic Exploration of Planet’s Surface, Rover Route, Experiment Rehearsal and Streamlined Analysis

LONDON — JANUARY 19th, 2004 — NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in visual processing solutions, today announced that NASA is using its technology to reconstruct Martian terrain from transmitted rover data in photorealistic virtual reality, allowing scientists to explore Mars in 3D as if they were actually moving freely on the planet’s surface. This NVIDIA-powered environment serves as a precise vision and planning system for NASA scientists, allowing them to rehearse a variety of Mars rover scenarios, mapping out moves and experiments, prior to directing the vehicle to undertake actual tasks by “flying” through highly realistic, 3D reconstructions of the Martian surface.

“NVIDIA technology allows NASA to visualise the Martian terrain in photorealistic virtual reality, greatly enhancing scientists’ understanding of the environment and streamlining analysis,” said Laurence Edwards, Mars team lead for 3D visualisation and surface reconstruction from NASA Ames Research Centre. “With this capability, scientists step into a visually engaging model of the planet’s surface and interactively study multiple perspectives — front, back, side views — of every object the rovers investigate to fully explore all options for rover routes and experiments.”

NASA scientists use NVIDIA graphics to visualise high-resolution photographic imagery more than three times as detailed as images sent from Sojourner in 1997. Because the new rovers travel six to ten times farther than Sojourner, taking approximately 6,000 to 10,000 more measurements per foot, the data visualised with NVIDIA graphics is transformed into a particularly detailed, visually enhanced representation of the planet’s terrain. Each day rover missions are underway, one group of NASA scientists focus on that day’s rover operation while another plans the following day’s activities by studying and interacting with this graphically rendered photographic and measurement data — taken from targeted, but as yet unexplored Martian terrain.

“NVIDIA graphics allow NASA scientists to interactively plan rover movements using 3D photorealistic views of the surface so commands transmitted to rovers result in successful experiments and data gathering,” said Edwards. “Data transmissions from Mars involve massive amounts of image data that must be quickly viewed, studied and shared. Three-dimensional visualisation in photorealistic virtual reality is the most effective way to maximise distance travelled and knowledge gained.”

Two NASA rovers, Spirit, which landed on Mars on January 3, 2004, and Opportunity, which is scheduled to land on January 24, 2004, will explore locations that suggest the one-time presence of water. By converting the data collected from cameras and scientific instruments on the rovers into knowledge through visualisation, NVIDIA graphics technology help NASA scientists learn more about the history of water on Mars in the hopes of determining whether life currently exists on or beneath the surface.

“Today, with this new technology, NASA can simulate the lighting and surface conditions expected on Mars when an experiment is to be conducted,” said Edwards. “If a rock will cast a shadow, obscuring a feature of interest, scientists on the ground will know about this effect in advance and plan around it. In the future, we envision scientists sitting within a large wrap-around display and programming rover movements and experiments using simple touch-screen or voice commands.”

NVIDIA Corporation is a market leader in visual computing technology dedicated to creating products that enhance the interactive experience on consumer and professional computing platforms. Its graphics and communications processors have broad market reach and are incorporated into a wide variety of computing platforms, including consumer digital-media PCs, enterprise PCs, professional workstations, digital content creation systems, notebook PCs, military navigation systems and video game consoles. NVIDIA is headquartered in Santa Clara, California and employs more than 1,800 people worldwide. For more information, visit the Company’s Web site at

Certain statements in this press release, including any statements relating to the Company's performance expectations for NVIDIA's family of products and expectations of continued revenue growth, are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause results to be materially different than expectations. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, manufacturing and other delays relating to new products, difficulties in the fabrication process and dependence of the Company on third-party manufacturers, general industry trends including cyclical trends in the PC and semiconductor industries, the impact of competitive products and pricing alternatives, market acceptance of the Company's new products and the Company's dependence on third-party developers and publishers. Investors are advised to read the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly those sections entitled "Certain Business Risks," for a fuller discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties.

# # #

Copyright © 2004 NVIDIA Corporation. All rights reserved. All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Features, pricing, availability and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on NVIDIA, please visit the NVIDIA Press Room at //