Jim Cameron, producer/director of “Avatar” has kicked open the door. By this I mean the incredible advances his film made in both 3D and virtual reality viewing makes it clear that we could add to the great Smithsonian panorama of history and science, a virtual reality planetarium.  Why?

The main reason why, is that over the next several centuries most residents of planet Earth will never experience close encounters with our solar system.  We will be left to depend, as we do now, on wonderful telescopic presentations that are stunning, but short on personal involvement.  A virtual reality planetarium would offer a step up in getting us up close and personal with our home solar system.

Here is how:

(1) Using 3D imaging as well as holographic presentations, visitors would tour our solar system virtually, but without all the limitations that even our boldest spacefarers must face.  In this setting we are in a total computer animated environment that imparts the sensation of being on a space ship making a grand tour of the solar system. It is a breathtaking, emotionally inspiring and educational experience.  Most importantly it is close up, and three dimensional, even four dimensional if you include the sound effects.

(2) As we gain in-depth knowledge of each of our solar systems entities (planets, minor planets, moons, comets and asteroids) we will enable small groups of visitors, at a time, to done the VR goggles and step out onto the surface of these planetary spacecapes and take an exploratory hike.  Our Moon would be the first candidate, then probably Mars, and then perhaps Venus. In full VR they will experience just about everything except maybe gravitational levels and atmosphere (will not be surprised if even this gets developed).This special center within the larger VR planetarium would rotate the candidate sites so that as new knowledge is gained it is “premiered” at the VR planetarium.

I get so excited thinking about this, I already imagine being a visitor to the center. Why should any of this matter?  Humankind must move toward acknowledging that we must become a fully space-faring global society.  The VR planetarium will directly aid this transition/realization. Additionally, because it can be manipulated, it also will serve as a vital research center for experiments in solar system dynamics. For example, we could probably evaluate the efficacy of the gravity tractor as asteroid behavior modification at far less the cost than an actual on site test.

Yes, I know I have now inspired all kinds of arguments. Good. Please, express you ideas, suggestions, arguments, and hopefully support in the comments section.  In all cases, always ask yourself how long you would be willing to stand in line for your VR exploration of Pluto, or Mars, or…?

I am already in line, and it is not even built yet.