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USRA contributes to The New York Times virtual reality experience 'Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart' releasing May 19

On May 19, 2016, The New York Times released a new virtual reality experience on their free phone app, NYTVR . "Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart" was generated with support from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, operated by the Universities Space Research Association for NASA. The experience debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival which exhibited the first-ever VR Arcade Festival Hub featuring 18 virtual reality movies. NYTVR can be downloaded at any time and a smartphone virtual reality viewer can be purchased through Google . The New York Times also distributed 300,000 viewers to long-time newspaper subscribers.

The New York Times film was produced in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Institute, operated by the Universities Space Research Association for NASA.

USRA's John Blackwell at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

John Blackwell, USRA Creative Producer and contributor to the project, experiences the debut of "Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart" at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Several outlets have written positive reviews of "Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart."

From Scientific American : "The most effective of the pieces, then, was that which merged hard data and experience directly: Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart uses astronomical data acquired by NASA's New Horizons mission to place the viewer into a location even more difficult to reach than the ocean floor: the surface of Pluto. Photos acquired during the flyby were used to construct a detailed three-dimensional map of the dwarf planet's surface, allowing viewers unprecedented access to vast ice sheets and craters. One detail in particular caught my eye as I virtually stood out on the frozen cartioid plane that gives the film its title: the fact that it was snowing. While it has yet to be established if the movement of methane snow on the surface is a result of air movements or genuine precipitation, this is apparently an accurate feature. The otherworldly experience is also enhanced by the extra care towards sound design that required four opera singers to be directionally mic-ed and virtually placed around the viewer. Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart was produced by The New York Times and like The Click Effect, will be appearing on the newspaper's own VR mobile app in the next few weeks."

From Lumoid Blog: As for a VR standout, it seems Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart has captivated most festivalgoers. Combining data from NASA's New Horizon mission and an experience that places viewers on the surface of Pluto, the documentary is both educational and awe-inspiring, transporting people to the farthest depths of our galaxy. Photos taken during New Horizon's flyby mission were used to construct a detailed 3D map of the dwarf planet's surface so viewers actually feel as if they're wandering around on Pluto, complete with craters and sheets of ice. Innovative filmmaking like this is what the Tribeca Film Festival is all about, and if the rave reviews coming out of the festival are any indication, expect to see virtual reality becoming a bigger part of the movie viewing experience in years to come.

The VR viewers credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

About USRA

Universities Space Research Association is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other government sponsors.