If you love a challenge and just so happen to know a thing or two about developing virtual reality (VR) content then you might want to enter NASA’s latest initiative. This month the space agency began the NASA MarsXR Challenge, looking for developers to help create VR environments for the purpose of research, development, and testing various situations encountered on Mars.
A collaborative effort between NASA, Buendea, and Epic Games, the challenge is for developers to utilise Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) to build “new assets and scenarios for the new Mars XR Operations Support System (XOSS) environment.” These need to be “immersive, engaging, and realistic experiences” that build upon what the MarsXR Engine already provides; full Martian days, realistic weather conditions and Martian gravity, approximately 154 miles2 of Martian terrain, and certain assets such as suits and rovers.
The assets and scenarios NASA wants developers to make need to be focused on particular extravehicular activities (EVA) scenarios. These are split down into five categories; Set Up Camp, Scientific Research, Maintenance, Exploration, and Blow Our Minds.
NASA has allotted a total prize fund of $70,000 USD for this challenge, which will be split across 20 winners. Categories will have four prizes each, with $6,000 going to the overall category winner. NASA says that: “Teams may submit multiple submissions in each category and submit to multiple categories,” and they “are eligible to and may win more than one award.”
Applications are open now until 26th July 2022. After which judging shall commence with the winners announced on 27th September.
NASA has always been very active within the XR space, utilising both VR and augmented reality (AR) for a range of initiatives. Recently, the space agency gave The Smithsonian access to rarely seen imagery to help create VR exhibit “FUTURES x Meta: Moonwalk” as part of the museum’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo moon landings. Or then there’s the collaboration with Felix & Paul Studios on Space Explorers: The ISS Experience.
For further updates on the MASA MArsXR Challenge, keep reading gmw3.