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NASA is always seeking novel ways to prepare astronauts for life and work in various settings, gravity levels, and environments. Massive water tanks and human centrifuge training simulators have previously been employed in testing and training programs. But these methods are costly to develop and maintain, and may not always adequately prepare astronauts for every experience they will encounter on a mission.
This challenge will award four winners in each of five different categories. Teams may submit multiple submissions in each category and submit to multiple categories. Each submission should be materially different from the other submissions the team has made in relation to content and focus. Teams are eligible to win more than one award.
To participate in this challenge, you will need to complete the following steps:
Check out the Resource Tab. This is where you can find different, useful resources to support your work on this challenge, including:
Successful submissions will include a video walk through, an executable file, and a full library of supporting documentation. Each submission will need to be either a scenario or an asset that should bring value to the larger XR environment being developed for NASA. Submissions with higher levels of realism, novelty, and usability will be more favorably received. Furthermore, the documentation submitted should provide a clear guideline and explanation of what has been developed.
Submissions must be based on the Unreal Engine 5 development tool.
Mission Aim: As humans, we are explorers at heart, and the search for life elsewhere has driven our desire to explore another planet. The success of the first human missions to Mars will require a sustained effort of stunning technical and operational complexity. With Mars being over 140 million miles from Earth, all the challenges of exploring are compounded by the distance and dealing with situations without real-time support from Earth.
Ongoing research has identified over one thousand tasks that are likely needed to be performed during early human expeditions to Mars. It is unrealistic to build all the training elements for tasks, but using virtual reality we can evaluate some aspects of future missions, such as the optimal size of the crews, what procedures will enable crew health and performance, and what equipment the crew will need to take on each mission.
This challenge is looking for developers to create new assets and scenarios to create realistic research, development, and testing environments for NASA test subjects to give them an immersive experience that can be updated and modified with new hardware and software solutions and physical equipment as they are created.
MarsXR Engine Information
In collaboration with NASA, Buendea has developed the NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine, using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5.
The NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine already includes:
There are a number of existing assets available for you and your team to integrate into the scenarios you build. You are also encouraged to enhance existing assets as needed by improving visual fidelity, adding Animation, and extending interactive functionality using either Blueprint or C++ scripting/programming languages.
For this challenge, a scenario is a single or networked XR experience that requires users to perform a sequence or series of tasks to complete defined objectives. An asset is defined as a 3D model of a relevant object with materials and scripted functionality. An example of an asset consists of static mesh components, with scripted events, and functions that define and determine asset behavior when interacting within the NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine environment.
XR Equipment Supported by NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine
The NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine is compatible with the following motion trackers and headsets:
Within each category, you may develop a specific scenario (including all needed assets), or just assets that you believe will be needed for tasks within a scenario or category. The XOSS MarsXR engine does not support scenarios inside the habitat. Teams will need to define if the scenario is single or multiplayer modes.
If you are developing an asset, each asset developed will need to be used in both single and multiplayer modes.
If you are modifying any of the existing assets already provided in the Mars Editor, you must duplicate the asset and then move it to your project folder and give it a new name that is different from the original asset.
There are five (5) different categories to participate in, with particular scenarios to explore in each category:
Check out the Categories Tab for more information
HeroX will recognize up to 20 winning ideas, sharing a total prize purse of $70,000. This challenge will award four winners in each of five different categories. Teams can be of any size, from a single individual to a large group or formal organization, as long as a leader is nominated.
Teams may submit multiple submissions in each category and submit to multiple categories. Assets that are submitted as part of a scenario will also be considered for the asset prize. Each submission should be materially different from the other submissions the team has made in relation to content and focus. Teams are eligible to and may win more than one award.
In each category, there will be one Overall Winner. There will be three additional prizes for each category:
In addition to the cash awards, winners will each receive a 30 mins zoom call with the NASA team that is developing and using the NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine. This will be an opportunity for winners to talk about what they have developed and how they might plan to use XR in the future. Additionally, winners will receive official NASA “swag”, which could include things like posters or pins from past NASA projects and/or missions. Selected winners may be contacted for additional insight into their submissions.
The judges will be looking at how realistic, complex, and detailed the assets or scenarios are.
To be eligible for an award, you must complete the submission form and it must include all of the following items:
1. Video Submission
2. Executable Submission
3. Mars Editor Project File Folder
The challenge is open to all adult individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Teams may originate from any country. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
Team captains must originate from either the U.S. or a designated country (see definition of designated country at https://www.acquisition.gov/far/part-25#FAR_25_003), OR have been substantially transformed in the US or designated country prior to prototype delivery pursuant to FAR 25.403(c).
No specific qualifications or expertise in the field of Virtual Reality is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions.
Source / contact: NASA MarsXR Challenge | HeroX
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