NASA has collaborated with HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform, for a challenge to the innovators, calling for developers to “create a new Virtual Reality (XR) research, development, and testing environment” to help prepare for situations that can be encountered on Mars. The US space agency has announced $70,000 in total as the prize for the innovators who come up with the best research and solutions. MarsXR challenge, which kicked off on May 5, will be on till July 26.
The total prize money will be shared between 20 individual prizes. “This challenge is seeking developers to create a new Virtual Reality (XR) research, development, and testing environment to help prepare for the experiences and situations that will be encountered on Mars,” NASA said in a statement.
“Participants will create new assets and scenarios for the new Mars XR Operations Support System (XOSS) environment, using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5. Solutions will focus on particular extravehicular activities (EVA) scenarios that will be used to test procedures and plan for conditions while on Mars,” it further added.
What’s the goal? To create an immersive, engaging, and realistic experience, NASA says.
With a focus on extravehicular activities (EVA) scenarios that will be used to test procedures and plan for conditions while on Mars, the challenge seeks to support NASA by creating additional assets and scenarios.
The five categories of the competition are: Set up Camp, Scientific Research, Maintenance, Exploration, Blow Our Minds.
NASA has been studying the Red Planet with a gamut of efforts. Most recently, it published details of a new study using data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter to explain why Martian frost can be invisible to the naked eye and why dust avalanches appear on some slopes.
“Odyssey is NASA’s longest-lived Mars mission and carries the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), an infrared, or temperature-sensitive, camera that provides a one-of-a-kind view of the Martian surface,” the US space agency says.
With its Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover program, the space agency trying to study the potential of life on the Red Planet that has often been at the center of the scientists’ curiosity about life beyond Earth.
An update will be shared next week on NASA’s InSight Mars lander, which landed in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars in November 2018 with the goal of studying the planet’s deep interior for the first time.