The other day the U.S. space agency NASA published an announcement about recruiting developers to create a Martian metaworld to be used for educational purposes.
The post, published on the dedicated crowdsourcing platform Herox, calls for developers to help the organization develop “virtual reality assets and scenarios for use in research on extra-spacecraft activities on the surface of Mars.”
The goal is to flesh out the previously launched meta-universe called MarsXR, which already maps 400 km2 of Mars’ surface, with realistic cycles of day and night simulated with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5.
The list of virtual experiments that NASA has identified as its objectives includes setting up camp, scientific research, maintenance, reconnaissance, and “shocking our imagination.”
Each of the experiments has a different goal. Winners will receive a total prize pool of $70,000, divided into twenty separate prizes. This means that one prize per category will average $6,000.
According to the Herox page, the challenge has already attracted a lot of attention from several groups of participants who want to contribute to the development of NASA’s Martian metaworld.
More than 24 teams and 237 innovators are involved in creating the Mars simulation, which will help the U.S. space agency cut costs by using the virtual reality module known as Apache to train future astronauts in various activities.
Until now, organizations have been slow to adopt virtual reality and meta-universe applications, but that appears to be changing as both Microsoft and Meta deploy virtual reality modules.
Last year, Microsoft announced the integration of the Mesh app, which will replace the video format in meetings and presentations with digital avatars, directly into the popular Microsoft Teams app. As for Meta, it recently announced the migration of the Venues app to its flagship VR platform, Horizon Worlds.