Research project + VR experience

How can space exploration and the exploration of Mars contribute to a greater appreciation for the Earth and a greater awareness among people of the necessity to treat our planet with care, using immersive media?

This research focuses on how space exploration and the exploration of Mars can contribute to a greater appreciation for Earth and a greater awareness among people of the need to care for our planet. The goal is to make people realize how rare and valuable the nature on our own planet is. Despite being confronted with daily problems such as climate change, people often lack the motivation to actively participate in changes. This research shows that people are not willing to go to Mars because the nature on Earth is more beautiful, but at the same time, they do not do much to preserve this nature because they only focus on short-term changes instead of long-term consequences.
Solo Research Project

Duration: 20 weeks
We explore the history and future of space exploration, look at Mars as a possible destination for colonization, and explore the use of immersive media to simulate the experience of space exploration. The aim is to initiate a broader discussion on increasing appreciation for nature on Earth and promoting awareness of sustainability, resulting in the preservation of our planet for future generations.

You can read the full research in the document provided below.

Dutch version: Exploratie

English version: Currently being translated

Thanks to the research on the growth of space exploration, logical and realistic predictions have been made about the future in 2070. Based on these predictions, TerraNova has been developed, including the creation of prototypes. The goal of TerraNova as a company is to convince people to visit a resort on Mars. To make the company realistic and immersive, background information and space exploration predictions have been made. The primary objective of TerraNova is to utilize the role of space exploration and the exploration of Mars to enhance the appreciation for Earth. We now understand why this appreciation is so crucial: climate change caused by human ignorance and the tragedy of the commons phenomenon.
By providing people with an immersive experience that takes them to the future and confronts them with the consequences of climate change, we can increase motivation to take action and feel responsible for preserving our planet. To achieve this, it was explained how immersive media such as VR and AR can help address the problem in conjunction with future space exploration and Mars. This is accomplished, in part, through the use of the overview effect and the realization of our options beyond Earth. Instead of reading about the problem on a computer screen, we want to allow people to experience the problem firsthand, promoting behavioral change. The interview also mentioned that many people fail to realize the severity of the problem because they do not directly observe it. AR and VR can enable users to access information and experiences that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain due to physical distance or lack of information sources. For example, we may not notice air pollution in Breda, but if we can use AR to show users real-time data, they will pay more attention to it.
Moving forward, this research resulted in an immersive experience where the company TerraNova attempts to persuade users to purchase a ticket to Mars. Through the use of AR, users will see information in the form of holograms and be able to experience the future, hopefully shifting their present bias to a more future-biased mindset that will enable them to take individual responsibility, similar to the astronauts. With the help of VR, we aim to let users experience what it would be like to go to Mars, with an emphasis on the overview effect.

With this research, we are trying to make the impossible of the present possible as an experience of the future. There are still many other possibilities to answer the research question, and it is hoped that this research can inspire others. For example, the use of games as a medium has not been explored, as it is also an immersive form of media. Deeper research needs to be conducted on influencing human behavior. Prototypes resulting from this research can always be further improved to make them more realistic. Since space exploration is currently not sustainable, further research must also be conducted to make it sustainable in the future. It is important that we treat both Earth and other planets with care and strive for a sustainable future.
Lastly, it is important to collaborate on an international level to address the challenges of climate change and environmental protection. Collaboration among governments, space organizations, scientists, businesses, and the public is essential to develop and implement sustainable solutions. We must acknowledge that the protection of our planet is a shared responsibility and that we can only achieve desired outcomes through collaboration. By showing the target audience that they do have individual influence, we can empower them through knowledge.

In summary, space exploration and the exploration of Mars offer opportunities to increase appreciation for Earth and raise awareness of environmental issues. Through the use of immersive media, space tourism, education, and international cooperation, we can bring about positive change and work towards a more sustainable future for our planet.