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NASA's Martian Metaverse winners revealed!

Back in May, we reported on the NASA’sMarsXR challenge, with $70,000 in prize money up for grabs. The competition, in partnership with extended reality (XR) simulation, training, and education organisation Buendea and American video game and software developer Epic Games, is aimed at helping NASA’s research on extravehicular activities on the surface of Mars.

NASA are “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.” The competition builds on the NASA XOSS MarsXR Editor, which uses Epic Game’s Unreal Engine 5 to virtualize 400 square kilometres of realistic Martian terrain and weather conditions, and provides developers with the tools required to build multi-user extravehicular activity (EVA) scenarios.

And last Thursday, the 13th of October, NASA competition partner HeroX announced its MarsXR challenge winners. This competition challenged innovators to build virtual reality assets and extravehicular activity (EVA) scenarios that can be used test procedures and plan for conditions relevant to future Martian exploration.

The $70,000 purse was shared across nine submissions spread across four categories based on criteria such as realism, value, novelty, usability and documentation. The “Blow Our Minds” category, the overall prize was won by team Overheat for their Space Suit Upgrade + Ambience submission, the Best Asset sub-category was won by team WEO for their Mixed Reality for simulation training submission, and the Honorable Mention was won by team UND_AI-VR-LAB for their Weather Balloon Inflation and Launch submission. The Exploration category was also won by team Overheat for their Exploration – Waypoints submission for the Best Asset sub-category. The overall Scientific Research category was won by team OpinionGames for their Microscope survey of Martian rocks during EVA submission, and the Best Scenario and Best Asset sub-categories were won by team Overheat for their Scientific Research – Seismometers, Scientific Research - Rock Sampling submissions.

Team Overheat also took home the prize for the overall Set Up Camp category for their Scientific Research – Seismometers, Scientific Research - Rock Sampling, and Set Up Camp - Mounting Solar Panels submission with the Honorable Mention going to team SciXP for their Test Your Solar Panel Deployment Skill On Mars submission.

Huge congratulations to team Overheat, Omardutty and R5D8, for their massive five prize haul. Please leave a comment below!

Nicolas Lobos/Unsplash

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