NASA has partnered up with Epic Games to create a virtual reality Mars metaverse.
The joint project hopes to become a helpful tool for space agencies when planning the first human expedition on the Red Planet.
Nasa has partnered with HeroX to launch the MarsXR challenge to get the ball rolling.
This test tasks developers with creating scenarios that cosmonauts may face while on Mars.
Challenges are divided into five categories: Set Up Camp, Scientific Research, Maintenance, Exploration, and ‘Blow Our Minds.’
Once all VR designs are in, Nasa is slated to pick up to 20 developers to share the $70,000 prize fund.
Potential virtual situations on Mars could range from setting up a base camp to facing a severe dust storm.
When developing their VR scenarios, designers also need to create assets and processes that astronauts can seamlessly follow in the future using VR headsets.
MarsXR’s OS system was built using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5, a tool that creates real-time 3D visuals for immersive experiences.
Developers participating in the challenge will be the first to access the digital world.
Their assignment can include single or multiplayer scenarios.
“Creators can use Unreal Engine to build realistic simulation scenarios to help prepare NASA for future missions, whether that’s to the moon or Mars,” said Seb Loze, Unreal Engine business director for simulation at Epic Games.
“Whether you’re a game designer, architect, hobbyist, or rocket scientist, anyone can build with UE5, and we can’t wait to see the immersive simulations the community comes up with.”