Mars 'Virtual Tour' Gives 360 View of Planet From NASA's Perseverance Rover

A videographer who specializes in 360-degree imagery is helping people to explore the surface of Mars.

Hugh Hou, founder of the YouTube channel CreatorUp, shared an interactive video to his Facebook account on Tuesday. His "virtual tour" of the Red Planet's barren exterior has since been shared more than 1.2 million times.

The panorama image that Hou used to create the 360-degree tour was released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday.

It was taken on February 20 by navigational cameras on the Perseverance rover, which had landed on Mars two days earlier, and "stitched together" from six images after they were sent back to Earth, the space agency said.

The sky in Hou's tour has been edited to show it full of stars, so the experience works better on virtual reality headsets, he wrote in a disclaimer on Facebook.

Hou explained: "The original photo does not have the full sky, I edited the sky to have a full 360 experience inside a VR headset like Oculus Quest 2. The sky does not represent the real sky from Mars. This is an art."

On Facebook, users can use their cursor to move the image and get a 360-degree view of what the rover recorded from the surface of the planet.

In a later post, Hou re-shared a CreatorUp video from last March that was based on footage from NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012. It was designed for "meditation and relaxation" purposes and a VR headset was also recommended, he said.

The CreatorUp channel has more than 70,000 subscribers. Since June 1, 2012, its videos have been watched more than 12.3 million times, according to YouTube analytics.

Newsweek has contacted Hou for comment on his latest project.

On Monday, NASA published "first-of-its-kind footage" of the Perseverance rover's landing, while a microphone on the rover provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

The space agency said the microphone did not collect usable data during the drop to the planet's surface. However, the device survived the "highly dynamic descent" and obtained a recording of a Martian breeze from Jezero Crater.

Officials said the first panorama image from the mission was taken by two navigation cameras on the mast of the rover—and more detailed imagery is expected.

"The rover team continues its initial inspection of Perseverance's systems and its immediate surroundings," NASA said.

"Monday, the team will check out five of the rover's seven instruments and take the first weather observations with the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer instrument. In the coming days, a 360-degree panorama of Jezero Crater by the Mastcam-Z should be transmitted down, providing the highest resolution look at the road ahead."

The Mars mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life, characterize the planet's geology and past climate and pave the way for human exploration, NASA said.

NASA Perseverance Mars rover
This image provided by NASA is the first high-resolution, color photo sent back by the cameras on the underside of the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on February 18. NASA/Getty