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Astrobiology for Education and Outreach: Three Immersive Projects
  • Chris Impey
Chris Impey
University of Arizona

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The search for life in the universe can inspire students and members of the public alike. Three projects are described which provide an immersive experience with astrobiology. The first is teaching astrobiology to non-science majors in the virtual world Second Life. Second Life can support authentic learning and foster cross-cultural competencies. In the next iteration of the course, students will create simulations of exoplanet landscapes and architectures of exoplanetary systems. The second project is a virtual reality exhibit for education and outreach. It has models of major facilities in astronomy and space science in a virtual space. Users wear Oculus Quest headsets and use game controllers to navigate. Next additions to the VR space will be examples of exoplanet science and fully animated exoplanet systems. The third project is a new version of a multimedia performance piece called StellarScape, combining original electronic music, dance and simulations of star birth. A live dancer interacts with simulations via sensors. The next version is PlanetScape, where back-projected video is a series of realistically rendered exoplanet surfaces. The dancer undertakes a “hero’s journey,” experiencing the altered gravity and physical conditions of alien planets as they try to find their way home.