NASA, the US space agency, has partnered with Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, to build a challenge for developers to help create a metaverse experience on Mars. The challenge will include several tasks, including the design of several key environments for Mars astronauts, which will be rendered using the Unreal Engine 5 from Epic Games to provide a realistic environment.
NASA to develop the Mars Metaverse to aid in training exercises
NASA, the US space agency, recently published a challenge to attract developers to help build the Martian metaverse environment to help with training purposes. The challenge, which was published on Herox, a crowdsourcing problem-solving platform, invites developers to help the organization build “virtual reality (XR) assets and scenarios for use by NASA in research focused on extravehicular activities on Mars.”
The challenge aims to populate an already started metaverse called MarsXR, which has now set 400 km2 The terrain of Mars, with realistic day and night courses, all built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5, which will also be used by the developers to create the transmissions in the challenge.
The hypothetical experiences that NASA has defined as categories for this mission include camp setting, scientific research, maintenance, exploration, and blowing our minds, each one with a different purpose to fulfill. The Challenge will reward the winners with a total prize portfolio of $70,000, shared across twenty individual prizes. This means that each award for each category will be an average of $6,000.
This activity has already attracted a lot of interest from several groups that want to contribute to the growth of NASA’s metaverse, according to the Herox page. More than 24 teams and 237 innovators are contributing to building the Mars simulator, which will help the agency cut costs by using a virtual reality module known as Apache to train upcoming astronauts in different experiments.
While organizations have been slow to adopt virtual reality and metaverse-based applications, this appears to be changing, with both Microsoft and Meta introducing virtual reality kits in the field. Microsoft announced last year that it would integrate Mesh, an app that will replace video with a digital avatar for meetings and presentations, directly into the popular Microsoft Teams app. For its part, Meta has just announced the launch of Venues in its flagship metaverse app, Horizon Worlds.
What do you think of NASA’s Mars metaverse approach? Tell us in the comments section below.
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