NASA Needs Your Help Building A VR Mars Simulator
Earn money helping NASA build a next-gen simulator for researchers and astronauts.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is teaming up with Epic Games to develop a hyper-realistic VR simulator that will replicate the harsh conditions of Mars in order to better train the next generation of astronauts, and they require your assistance.
Built using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5, the Mars XR Operations Support System is a virtual environment developed by NASA in collaboration with Buendea that simulates life on the planet Mars. This includes full Marcian days with revolving day and night cycles (orange and blue hues), changing weather conditions, Martian gravity, rovers, and over 400 km2 (~ 154 Miles2) of researched terrain to traverse.
There’s only one problem: there’s nothing to do. This, my reader, is where you come in.
NASA today announced the NASA MarsXR Challenge, a new crowd-funding competition hosted on HeroX that tasks participants with creating realistic assets and scenarios one may encounter while stationed on the big red planet. The idea is that by developing a realistic VR simulation of the planet, NASA can better prepare its future astronauts for extravehicular activities.
“Creators can use Unreal Engine to build realistic simulation scenarios to help prepare NASA for future missions, whether that’s to the moon or to Mars,” said Seb Loze, Unreal Engine business director for simulation at Epic Games in an official release. “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.”
“It’s always exciting to see how cutting-edge technology makes what we thought previously impossible possible,” said Kal K. Sahota. “HeroX’s expansive network is sure to find ways to further develop VR technology and better prepare humans for space exploration.”
The competition is open to anyone 18 and up, either individually or as part of a team. 20 participants will be selected as winners, splitting a total prize pool of $70,000 ($3,500 per contestant). For more information on the competition visit here.
Image Credit: NASA