Go to the surface of Mars with this out-of-this-world Instagram AR filter

In planet Mars
(Image: NASA)

The last few weeks saw social media echoing in cheers as NASA’s Perseverance rover made a historic landing on Mars after almost seven months of galactic travel. Proof of Perseverance touching down came by way of crystal-clear photos showing the surface of the Red Planet. 

We stared both in awe and in wonder: what would it be like to roam Mars just as what Perseverance is set to do?

While we still don’t have the technology to bring human beings to Mars, NASA gave us the next best thing: an augmented reality Instagram filter that presents a 360-degree panoramic view of Mars, direct from Perseverance’s perspective.

Through the filter, Instagram users can “pilot” the Perseverance rover. As you access the AR feature, you will start your journey from Mars’ Jezero Crater. Moving your phone around will swivel the rover’s camera vision; tapping the rover’s arm will extend it to the ground and initiate digging and collecting samples; and opening your mouth will make lasers shoot of the rover (According to National Geographic, this is just an effect; the laser beam isn’t actually visible and is observed as just a quick zap upon impact). 

Naturally, you’d want to take a selfie. Lucky for you, tapping the camera button flips it to selfie view so you can snap a photo while shoulder to shoulder with the digital rover.

To get a hint of what it looks like, here’s NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins’ demo of the out-of-this-world AR experience:


Made in collaboration with National Geographic, the immersive AR experience was built through Instagram’s Spark AR platform. NASA also sought the help of the space agency’s top engineers and designers who built the rover.

“For the first time, we get to experience what it’s like to be a rover exploring an uncharted world,” said Christina Hernandez, payload systems engineer for NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover, in an interview with Good Morning America. “With this new Instagram AR experience coupled with our recent EDL video and Mars audio data, not only can we see and listen to what it’s like to be on Mars, but we can feel what it’s like to be explorers ourselves!”

To start wandering the surface of Mars, simply click this link or search the Mars AR among the filter effects inside the Instagram camera.

Fun fact: this is National Geographic’s fourth project with Instagram’s Spark AR platform. Travel back to prehistoric times with Spinosaurus, ascend the tallest mountain with Climb Everest, and take a peek at where we’re headed with the futuristic World in 2070. Enjoy!

READ: NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover’s Tweets are Extraterrestrial


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