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Now that 3D has conquered Earth, it’s on to the next planet. James Cameron tells the Pasadena Star that he wants to send 3D to Mars. Or rather, he’d like to send his 3D cameras.

It seems Cameron has been lobbying NASA to mount a high-resolution, color, 3D camera on their Mars rovers. In fact, there were plans to do it on their 2007 rover launch, but the project was scaled back. NASA has, however, purchased a 3D camera with the intention of sending it on their next rover mission. Of NASA’s 3D plan Cameron says, “(The scientists are) going to answer a lot of really important questions about the previous and potential future habitability of Mars.” And 3D will help them do that exactly how? Oh wait, it won’t.

The camera may not be ready for the next Mars rover mission, called “Curiosity” (NASA should really work on this naming thing. Call it Sword of Inquiry or something better and maybe you’ll actually get people excited about the project.), but apparently Cameron has talked them all into being really enthusiastic. It’s all a question of whether the cameras will be ready or not. Except it’s mostly irrelevant since 3D images won’t really show you anything you couldn’t get with a high-def 2D camera and they weigh more, which means leaving off something which might actually, you know, increase our knowledge of the planet.

I get why NASA’s interested in doing it. It’s the same reason Hollywood’s post-converting all of their upcoming films into 3D whether or not it’s warranted. It’s a gimmick. NASA struggles to get people interested in what they’re doing and I’m sure they believe that if they can show Mars in 3D it’ll somehow make people pay attention. But two years from now when the rover finally beams down those images, won’t the 3D fad be over? And how much will it really add to the Mars viewing experience if we can look at the planet’s barren, empty landscapes in images with more depth to them? It’s not really 3D. It’s not like they’ll be able to cook up some sort of Star Trekkie Holodeck creation. That might be worth the effort. Instead 3D will just make the whole place look even more barren. Call me when we start sending astronauts. Shoot them on the ground, kicking up Martian dust, and then I’ll get excited.

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