NASA Teams Up with Epic Games and HeroX to Source VR Technology for Future Mars Exploration

Top Solutions for Extravehicular Simulations Will Earn Prize Purse of $70K

HOUSTON, May 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — HeroX, the leading platform and open marketplace for crowdsourced solutions, with Epic Games and Buendea, today launched the crowdsourcing competition, NASA MarsXR Challenge. The Challenge seeks contributions to a Virtual Reality (XR) testbed environment that replicates the experiences and situations astronauts may encounter on Mars.

To facilitate research, development, and testing using virtual reality, NASA, in collaboration with Buendea, is developing the Mars XR Operations Support System using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5. Participants of the NASA MarsXR Challenge will gain first access to this virtual reality environment, which includes:

  • Full Martian days, with the orange hues of day transitioning to blue at night.
  • Changing weather conditions and Martian gravity.
  • Over 400 km2 (~ 154 Miles2) of realistic, researched Mars terrain.
  • Some existing assets, such as suits and rovers.

Challenge participants will be tasked with developing assets and scenarios within the virtual reality environment that model the types of tasks that may need to be performed during early human expeditions to Mars, which can then be used to expose researchers and test subjects to immersive and realistic spacewalk activities while on the red planet. Information gained from these simulations could help NASA prepare for future human exploration of Mars.

"Creators can use Unreal Engine to build realistic simulation scenarios to help prepare NASA for future missions, whether that’s to the moon or to Mars," said Seb Loze, Unreal Engine business director for simulation at Epic Games. "Whether you’re a game designer, architect, hobbyist or rocket scientist, anyone can build with UE5, and we can’t wait to see the immersive simulations the community comes up with."

"It’s always exciting to see how cutting-edge technology makes what we thought previously impossible possible," said Kal K. Sahota. "HeroX’s expansive network is sure to find ways to further develop VR technology and better prepare humans for space exploration."

The Challenge: The NASA MarsXR Challenge asks the larger community to consider how to build Virtual Reality assets and simulations for use by NASA in their preparation for extravehicular activities on Mars.

The Prize: Up to 20 participants who submit the top ideas will share a total prize purse of $70,000.

Eligibility to Compete and Win Prize(s):  The prize is open to anyone aged 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (some restrictions apply).

To accept the challenge, visit

HeroX is a platform and open marketplace for crowdsourcing innovation and human ingenuity, co-founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur, Christian Cotichini and XPRIZE Founder and Futurist, Peter Diamandis. HeroX offers a turnkey, easy-to-use platform that supports anyone, anywhere, to solve everyday business and world challenges using the power of the crowd. Uniquely positioned as the Social Network for Innovation, HeroX is the only place you can build, grow and curate your very own crowd.

To explore other challenges on HeroX,

Founded in 1991, Epic Games is an American company founded by CEO Tim Sweeney. The company is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina and has more than 50 offices worldwide. Today Epic is a leading interactive entertainment company and provider of 3D engine technology. Epic operates one of the world’s largest games, Fortnite, and Epic has over 500 million accounts with 2.7 billion friend connections across Fortnite, Rocket League, and the Epic Games Store. Epic also develops Unreal Engine, which powers the world’s leading games and is also adopted across industries such as film and television, architecture, automotive, manufacturing, and simulation. Through Unreal Engine, Epic Games Store, and Epic Online Services, Epic provides an end-to-end digital ecosystem for developers and creators to build, distribute, and operate games and other content.

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

Media Contact:
Alexandra Pony