NASA partners with Epic Games to launch a Martian metaverse simulation

May 11, 2022

By Murtuza Merchant

NASA, the U.S. space agency, together with Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, is all set to build a challenge for developers to help create a Martian (relating to Mars) metaverse experience.

The space agency has recently posted a challenge in Herox, a crowdsourcing problem-solving platform, to attract developers to help build a Martian metaverse environment to aid in training purposes.

The challenge calls for developers to aid the institution in building “Virtual Reality (XR) assets and scenarios for use by NASA in research focused on extravehicular activities on the surface of Mars.”

The challenge aims to populate an already-started metaverse world called MarsXR, which has now mapped 400 km2 of Mars Terrain, with realistic day/night cycles, all modeled with Epic Games Unreal Engine 5.

NASA has defined several virtual experiences as categories for this task including setting up camp, scientific research, maintenance, exploration, and blowing our minds, each one with a different purpose to fulfill.

The winners will be rewarded with a total prize of $70,000, shared across twenty individual prizes. This means that each award for every category will be an average of $6,000.

The challenge has already gathered a lot of attention from several groups interested in contributing to NASA’s Martian metaverse, according to the Herox website.

While institutions were slow in adopting virtual reality and metaverse-based apps, this seems to be changing, as both Microsoft and Meta are now diving into the VR space.

Meta has recently announced the launch of Venues in its flagship metaverse app, Horizon Worlds.

Microsoft announced last year it would integrate Mesh, an app that will replace videos with digital avatars for meetings and presentations, directly into its Microsoft Teams app.

About the author

Murtuza Merchant is a senior journalist and an avid follower of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

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