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NASA Tournament Lab

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NASA MarsXR Challenge

Build Virtual Reality (XR) assets and scenarios for use by NASA in research focused on extravehicular activities on the surface of Mars.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Judging
prize:
$70,000

This challenge is closed

Partners
Overview

Challenge Overview

We 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. If this sounds intriguing and exciting to you, then join the NASA MarsXR Challenge today!

On behalf of NASA, Buendea, and Epic Games, this challenge is seeking developers to create new assets and scenarios for the new Mars XR Operations Support System (XOSS) environment, using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5. 

This challenge seeks to support NASA by creating additional assets and scenarios focused on particular extravehicular activities (EVA) scenarios that will be used to test procedures and plan for conditions while on Mars. The goal is to create an immersive, engaging, and realistic experience. 

The MarsXR Engine currently includes:

  • Full Martian days, with the orange hues of day transitioning to blue at night.
  • Realistic weather conditions and Martian gravity.
  • 400 km2 (approximately 154 miles2) of realistic, researched Mars terrain.
  • Some existing assets, such as suits and rovers.

There are five (5) different categories to participate in, with particular scenarios to explore in each category:

  1. Set Up Camp
  2. Scientific Research
  3. Maintenance
  4. Exploration
  5. Blow Our Minds

The total prize purse is $70,000 for this challenge, shared between twenty (20) individual prizes. Each category will have four prizes, with the overall category winner receiving $6,000.

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 and may win more than one award.  

About Buendea

Buendea is a group dedicated to technical innovation and breakthroughs in real-time graphics for XR scenario, training, and education. Buendea is passionate about storytelling and creating new forms of shared experiences that bridge the physical and digital. 

About Unreal Engine

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine is the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D tool. Creators across games, film and television, architecture, automotive, manufacturing, live events, simulation and other industries choose Unreal to deliver cutting-edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds. Follow @UnrealEngine and download Unreal for free at unrealengine.com

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Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

Background

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.

Virtual reality was first used experimentally in the early 1990s, and it has now become an integral part of how NASA conducts research and developmental testing to support astronauts for space missions. The Human Physiology, Performance, Protection & Operations Laboratory (H-3PO) at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is developing an XR exploration surface analog known as, “Assessments of Physiology And Cognition in Hybrid-reality Environments” (APACHE). The goal of APACHE is to create a planetary exploration EVA scenario environment that provides a representative physical and cognitive workload approximation using a combination of virtual reality (XR), physical reality, and hybrid reality (HR) techniques. XOSS is one of the primary XR environments that is employed within the APACHE testbed. APACHE can support multiple EV crew members in the HR environment, working in tandem.

Future iterations and testing within APACHE will include biosensor-driven informatics, such as real-time heart rate monitoring and/or derived values from crew state physiologic models, objective quantifications of the cognitive workload of subjects, and comparative performance measures using validated methods such as psychophysiometrics. This physiologically-derived data may be visualized and used to help plan and execute EVAs while preserving astronauts’ health and performance. 

 

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:

  1. Click on the Solve this Challenge at the top of this page and accept the terms and conditions
  2. Sign up for an Epic Games account
  3. Download the NASA XOSS MarsXR Engine on the Epic Games Market Place
  4. Read the How-to documentation for using the game engine

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 Information

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:

  • Motion capture for full-body tracking using VIVE Trackers
  • Multiplayer environment that allows users to connect and explore Mars
  • Full Martian Day and Night Cycles, with the orange hues of daytime transitioning to blue at night
  • Realistic weather conditions, and Martian gravity
  • Over 400 km2 (approximately 154 miles2) of Mars terrain covering the Jezero Crater (based on photogrammetry and satellite imagery)
  • Numerous assets such as suits and rovers.

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 Blueprint scripting/programming language.

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 behaviour 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:

  • Motion capture via VIVE trackers
  • SteamVR supported headsets
    • HTC VIVE
    • VIVE Pro
    • VIVE Pro eye
    • VIVE Pro 2
    • Valve Index

 

MarsXR Challenge Categories

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:

  1. Set Up Camp
  2. Scientific Research
  3. Maintenance
  4. Exploration
  5. Blow Our Minds

Check out the Categories Tab for more information

 

Prize

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: 

  • Best Scenario
  • Best Asset
  • Honorable Mention

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.

 

Prize CategoryAwardsTotal
Set Up Camp($6,000) Overall Category Winner 
($4,000) Best Scenario
($3,000) Best Asset 
($1,000) Honorable Mention
$14,000
Scientific Research($6,000) Overall Category Winner 
($4,000) Best Scenario
($3,000) Best Asset 
($1,000) Honorable Mention
$14,000
Maintenance ($6,000) Overall Category Winner 
($4,000) Best Scenario
($3,000) Best Asset 
($1,000) Honorable Mention
$14,000
Exploration($6,000) Overall Category Winner 
($4,000) Best Scenario
($3,000) Best Asset 
($1,000) Honorable Mention
$14,000
Blow Our Minds($6,000) Overall Category Winner
($4,000) Best Scenario
($3,000) Best Asset 
($1,000) Honorable Mention
$14,000
 Total Prize Purse$70,000 USD

 

Timeline

Open to submissions May 5, 2022 

Submission deadline July 26, 2022 @ 5pm ET

Judging July 27 to September 20, 2022

Winners Announced September 27, 2022

 

How do I win?

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

  • Provide the link for the video
  • Must be 3 minutes or less in length
  • Give a narrative (in English) description of the project, explaining what has been developed and why
  • Show gameplay highlights for the scenario or the asset/s in use
  • Provide a 360’ view of assets, for asset-only submissions

2. Executable Submission

  • Submit an EXE file of the “cooked” submission
  • For the executable you will need to cook and package the project for submission.
  • After you have cooked and packaged the project, rename the build folder from “WindowsNoEditor” to a relevant name for your submission.
  • Verify the build works, and then Zip up the build folder for submission.

3. Mars Editor Project File Folder

  • All project files should be placed under a single parent folder in the content browser in Mars Editor. The parent folder should be labeled with the prefix “AA” and then Your Team Name. Any sub-folders in the parent folder can be labeled as needed.

For example:

  • Project File Naming Conventions: For any project, consistent naming conventions are always important for good organization. You can refer to the UE5 Style Guide for naming conventions. https://github.com/Allar/ue5-style-guide
  • Readme Text Document: You will need to create a readme text file that contains the following information along with any unique requirements (if any):
    • Team Members Names
    • Submission Categories
    • Name of any Unreal Plugins used (if any)
    • Any unique requirements for the project or the executable
  • Mars Editor Project Files Submission Requirements: Once your project is finished and ready for submission you will need to zip up the project files for submission.

 

Judging Criteria

Section DescriptionOverall Weight
Realism

Scenario submission

Visual 

  • Models - Are detailed and scale and proportions are accurate
  • Materials - Surfaces are accurate and detailed
  • Animation - Objects and component movements are clean and move accurately to their real-world counterparts

Process and Procedures 

  • The task that the user performs User tasks are accurate
  • Object Interactions - Object behaves as expected or the same as real counterparts

Asset submission

Visual 

  • Models - Are detailed and scale and proportions are accurate
  • Materials - Surfaces are accurate and detailed
  • Animation - Objects and component movements are clean and move accurately to there real-world counterparts
30
Value 

Scenario submission

What is the value to the development of the VR environment?

  • Mission and scenario designs are relevant and beneficial
  • The Submission meets the submission category requirements
  • Assets have the potential to be reused in other mission scenarios
  • Interactive elements have extended the functionality of the Mars editor

Asset submission

What is the value to the development of the VR environment?

  • Asset designs are relevant and beneficial
  • The Submission meets the submission category requirements
  • Assets have the potential to be reused in other mission scenarios
20
Novelty

Scenario submission

How unique is the submission?

  • Does this submission do something new or in a different way that has not been demonstrated in other submissions or already in the engine?
  • Is there a mission narrative or some device that leads the player through the task at hand? Or does it simply expect the user to understand what the scenario is and expect them to know what to do?

Asset submission

How unique is the submission?

  • Does this submission do something new or in a different way that has not been demonstrated in other submissions or already in the engine?
20
Usability 

Scenario submission

Efficiency/ Functionality / Error management

  • Users clearly understand what they are supposed to do or what they are trying to accomplish within the scenario
  • Scripting - Performance is stable and efficient and reliable - No Bugs or show stoppers
  • The project runs efficiently
  • Project runs at an appropriate frame rate.
  • Models, materials, and textures are efficiently made for an XR environment.

Asset submission

Efficiency/ Functionality / Error management  

  • Users clearly understand what they are supposed to create
  • Scripting - Performance is stable and efficient and reliable - No Bugs or show stoppers
  • The project runs efficiently
  • Project runs at an appropriate frame rate.
  • Models, materials, and textures are efficiently made for an XR environment.
20
Documentation
  • Help files and/or documentation is provided
10

 

Rules

Participation Eligibility:

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. 

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before 5pm EDT on July 26, 2022. All uploads must include an EXE file and Full Library with the submission form. No late submissions will be accepted.

This challenge allows multiple submissions per individual/team. Should you have multiple entries to submit to this challenge, they will be considered separately. Whether or not multiple entries from the same individual or team may be chosen for a prize is up to the discretion of the Challenge Sponsor. 

Intellectual Property Rights:

As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – To receive a Prize, Winner must agree to license all content and assets developed by Winner and contributed to the project to be licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY (4.0) license and all code developed by Winner and contributed to the project to be licensed under the Apache License 2.0, or similar Open Source Initiative (“OSI”) license as determined by Challenge Sponsor. 

Awarding of the Prize:

The Individual Submitter or Team Captain is automatically designated as the Recipient of the prize monies. The Individual’s or Captain’s name must also match the Authorized Person on the receiving Bank Account. No changes are permitted to the prize Recipient after the Submission Deadline date. If you wish to change who would receive the prize monies, those changes must be completed prior to the Submission Deadline. View our Knowledge Base article here for how to change Team Captains.

 Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to adhere to the HeroX Intellectual Integrity Policy and promises to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law. 


 

Categories
Timeline
Updates21

Challenge Updates

Postponed Award Announcement

Sept. 27, 2022, noon PDT by Daniela Valenzuela

The team is working hard on finalising the selection of the winners, which means we won't be able to announce the winners today. Please keep an eye on the updates, the new winner announcement date is on the 13th of October.

Good luck!
HeroX Team


Thank You for your Submissions

July 28, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by Lulu

Just like that, it’s over! Thank you to all of you who sent in submissions. We can’t wait to finally see what you’ve been working so hard on. 

Crowdsourcing would be nothing without the crowd — that’s you! Thank you for being an indispensable part of this process, and using your brainpower for the greater good.

Congratulations on completing your submission. This is not an easy process, and you deserve a pat on the back for your hard work and dedication. Thank you!


 


Eight Hours Left

July 27, 2022, 12:59 p.m. PDT by Lulu

It’s almost over! You have eight hours left to send in your NASA MarsXR Challenge submission. 

Be sure to get your submission in well before the deadline. We don’t want you to have put all this work into your project, only to miss the deadline by a hair. Please send it in no later than July 27, 2022, 23:59 pm Eastern Time.

Good luck finishing up your submissions! We can’t wait to see all of your hard work.


 


Deadline Extended to Wednesday 27th, 23:59 ET

July 25, 2022, 12:17 p.m. PDT by Daniela Valenzuela

The challenge team has granted a small extension to the submission deadline for all participants in order to allow additional time to package and upload submissions. The new deadline is Wednesday July 27th, 23:59 ET. Please begin your submission upload as soon as possible, as file libraries may take some time to upload.

 

Best of luck in this last push!


Two Day Warning

July 24, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by Lulu

It’s the final push! Your project is due in two days, on July 26, 2022, 5:00pm Eastern Time.

Whether you’re just finishing off the final tweaks, or you’ve got a whole project left to complete, we have faith in you (here’s looking at you, procrastinators). Keep on trucking, and you’ll be done soon.

As you make the final tweaks to your project, it’s a good idea to begin the submission process now. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the submission portal and make sure that all your files are in the correct format.

If you have any last minute questions, now is the time to ask them. Use the forum or comment directly on this post, and we’ll get back to you right away.

Good luck, innovators!


 


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