NASA has partnered with Epic Games to create a virtual reality metaverse on Mars.
The joint project hopes to become a useful tool for space agencies when planning the first human expedition to the Red Planet.
To get the ball rolling, NASA has teamed up with HeroX to launch the MarsXR Challenge.
This test tasks developers with creating scenarios that cosmonauts may face on Mars.
Challenges are divided into five categories: Set Up Camp, Scientific Research, Maintenance, Exploration, and Blow Our Minds.
Once all VR designs are available, Nasa is expected to select up to 20 developers to share the $70,000 prize.
Potential virtual situations on Mars could range from setting up base camp to dealing with a severe dust storm.
When developing their VR scenarios, designers must also create assets and processes that astronauts can follow seamlessly in the future using VR headsets.
MarsXR’s operating system was built using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5, a tool that creates real-time 3D visuals for immersive experiences.
Developers participating in the challenge will be the first to access the digital world.
Their assignment may include single or multiplayer scenarios.
“Creators can use Unreal Engine to create realistic simulation scenarios to help prepare NASA for future missions, whether to the moon or to Mars,” said Seb Loze, Unreal Engine Business Manager for simulation at Epic Games.
“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 offers.”
The race to Mars is on…
NASA is not the only entity trying to get to Mars, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has also expressed his ambitions to colonize the red planet.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and since then has consistently reaffirmed that one of his greatest goals is to help make humanity a multiplanetary species.
In order to achieve this otherworldly feat, the richest man in the world (at the time of publication) turned his attention to the Red Planet, located approximately 33.9 million kilometers from Earth.
“If we are able to make life autonomous on Mars, we will have passed one of the biggest filters. This then prepares us to go interstellar,” Musk wrote on Twitter in November.
“Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, but life is still not multiplanetary and the time left to become so is extremely uncertain,” he added.
So far, Musk’s long-term vision for Mars looks like building a self-sustaining city that includes solar-powered hydroponic farms and vegan diets.
“The next big thing is to build a self-sustaining city on Mars and bring Earth’s animals and creatures there,” Musk told Time.
“Kind of like a futuristic Noah’s Ark. We’ll bring more than two, though – it’s a little weird if it’s only two,” he continued.
This article originally appeared on The sun and has been reproduced here with permission.