DALLAS, Texas - Taking a step into the new frontier, NASA Ames Research Center, under the direction of Simon "Pete" Worden, has launched an island in Second Life, an online 3-D virtual world created, shaped, and owned by its participants.I've been exploring NASA's CoLab island and it is way cool. Nearby, "life-sized" models of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and the Ares 1 and Ares 5 launch vehicles can be seen, alongside models of just about any rocket anyone has ever flown, including the majestic Saturn V, being carried by the awesome Crawler from the High Bay of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). It's worth the effort to sign up for a free Second Life account and downloading their software just to see this.
If successful, the partnership could offer a powerful new tool to increase global participation in NASA's exploration agenda, one day allowing the public to "take part" in returning to the Moon, future missions to Mars, the asteroids and beyond-all without the need of a spacesuit.
Worden, both in avatar form-known as Simon Pete Raymaker-as well as in person, spoke Saturday at the National Space Society's (NSS) 26th annual International Space Development Conference being held here.
"We at NASA are working hard to create opportunities for what I might call participatory exploration," Worden's avatar told participants at today's panel. An avatar is an out-of-body, Internet representation of herself or himself, alive and well and working within cyberspace.
If you have a Second Life account, click here to go to the Spaceport. If you don't have an account yet, click here.