If the subject comes up frequently on the table, we must all the same admit that Man is not yet ready to set foot on Martian soil. Given the current geopolitical context and the obvious technological limits, we will probably have to wait for many years before being able to fly to the red planet …
To help us take our troubles patiently, NASA has launched a most interesting initiative in partnership with Epic Games.
The video game to the rescue of space conquest
The neighbor of the Earth undoubtedly conceals secrets that human beings will only discover by going directly there. But since it won’t be right away, you might as well prepare for it as you should. This is what NASA intends to do by partnering with Epic Games in order to create virtual reality experiences entirely devoted to Mars.
This program was launched through the HeroX platform, which allows different companies to participate in projects overseen by the space organization. The challenge in question is aimed at video game developers since it is Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 that will be involved. This challenge named MarsXR will offer rewards to studios that stand out.
To prepare for the future
Of course, the developers will not start from scratch since MarsXR provides them with a multitude of resources including a virtual world with Martian environments of more than 400 km². There are even day/night cycles, simulated planetary gravity, weather effects and more. The creators must then choose from the five types of experiments claimed by NASA. Setting up a camp, scientific research, maintenance, exploration and “Wow us” are the requested categories. The last theme will probably grant more freedom.
At the end of the challenge, in which more than 150 teams are already taking part, 20 prizes will be awarded (four per category). A total cash prize of $70,000 is at stake and will quite logically be distributed among the winners. But given NASA’s sizeable budget, some critics are flying in, pointing to the fact that the agency could have hired all these fine people rather than launching a banal competition. Case to follow.