To put it mildly, Mars astronauts are likely to feel isolation on a level that even the most daring space explorers can't understand. How do you feel connected when Earth is just a dot in the sky? NASA, Smart Information Flow Technologies and 8i might help. They're researching the prospect of using virtual and augmented reality experiences to fight the "sensory and social monotony" of a Mars mission. The aim would be to create a library of inspirational messages that remind astronauts why they're on the Red Planet, and connect them to family -- a bit like the video messages in 2001, only more immersive.