The participants will have to create new assets and scenarios for the Mars XR environment using Unreal Engine 5 to build the Mars XR Operations Support System which will help train future astronauts that will come to the Red Planet.
In the coming years, NASA intends to conduct the crewed missions to Mars which will be the first time when a human will step on the planet. In anticipation of these missions, NASA has teamed up with Epic Games, VR studio Buendea, and crowdsourcing platform HeroX to launch the NASA MarsXR Challenge.
NASA is currently developing the Mars XR Operations Support System (XOSS) and together with Buendea, it created a full-fledged Mars XR simulator run on the Epic's Unreal Engine 5 engine which will help train future astronauts that will come to the Red Planet.
The realistic virtual reality environment developed by NASA and its partners includes a full-fledged simulation of sols (Martian days) and weather conditions. It has over 400 km² of the planet's terrain, which accurately simulates the Martian surface based on satellite images.
To facilitate virtual reality research, NASA invites developers to participate in the NASA MarsXR Challenge. The developers will have to create new assets and scenarios for the XOSS environment, using UE5.
Challenges are split into five categories which include Set Up Camp, Scientific Research, Maintenance, Exploration, and an interestingly named category "Blow Our Minds". In each of them, the participants will have to develop particular scenarios that astronauts can follow while preparing for their future missions.
"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 Unreal Engine business director for simulation at Epic Games, Seb Loze. "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."
The challenge has a $70,000 prize fund which will be shared between 20 individual prizes. Each category will have four prizes, with the overall category winner receiving $6,000.
Learn more and apply for the challenge here. Also, don't forget to join our new Reddit page, our new Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we are sharing breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.