NASA will use the metaverse to build VR scenarios for Mars missions

The space agency partners with Epic Games to tap game developers.
Ameya Paleja

NASA is set to join the league of major sectors that are harnessing the potential of the metaverse. The space agency is looking for virtual reality simulations of Mars exploration, Gamerant reported

The interest in colonizing Mars has been heating up for the past few years. Not only is SpaceX getting more and more confident about landing people on Mars, but NASA has also been working to get astronauts more acclimatized to staying on the Red Planet. Last year, we reported how NASA wants people to stay in Martian habitats created on Earth to learn about the impact of extended stays in these alien environments. Since all simulations cannot be practically done in real-life, the space agency is turning to the next best thing, the metaverse. 

Wanted XR developers to build Martian experiences

According to the Gamerant's report, NASA has created five categories of Martian simulations, namely, "Set Up Camp," "Scientific Research," "Maintenance," "Exploration," and "Blow Our Minds" for these environments. As the name suggests, the last one gives free rein to creativity and can be used to spring up the most bizarre or incredibly imaginative scenarios. 

Submissions need to be made within 80 days, and there are up to four prizes for each category. Yes, this challenge is indeed open to all, and you could be a company or an individual and still take part in it. That's exactly why HeroX, a crowd-sourcing platform, tweeted it out. 

Too much to do, too little time? 

In case you are wondering if there is so much to do in such little time, you actually do not have to do everything from scratch. Using the Unreal Engine 5, developers will aim to build their experiences to be used inside NASA's Mars XR Operations Support System. This environment already has a world with Martian terrain, realistic weather, day/night cycles, Martian gravity, and other assets like spacesuits and rovers. 

So, your unique experience can be built on top of this existing platform, which allows you to focus on the experience and not worry about the nitty-gritty of it. Gamerant has reported that over 150 teams from around the world have already entered this challenge.

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