Visiting Mars for most of us remains out of reach until flights to the Red Planet become regular and affordable. Of course, if at all possible. Now NASA hopes to make a manned flight to Mars in 2030, although some experts warn Congress that NASA funds will not be enough for such a flight.
In any case, NASA relies on the project 2030 and one of the ways of its development is walking around the Red Planet in virtual reality. The new game “Mars 2030”, created in conjunction with VR developer Fusion (a subsidiary of Disney-ABC and Univision) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be presented at the South By Southwest festival in March. The game will be available to the public during this year.
“To achieve a high level of scientific accuracy, we interact with several NASA units working on various aspects of this complex mission,” said Julian Reyes, director and designer of virtual reality Fusion.
“We visited the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Langley Research Center and consulted with scientists who had dedicated themselves to the exploration of Mars. Our goal is to create an exciting game, while remaining within the framework of science. ”
Fusion first became interested in the Mars 2030 project after reading the popular Mars-1 research paper created by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mars-1 is a privately financed project to send a person to the Red Planet without the possibility of returning from it. A selection of program participants is currently underway, along with fundraising for its implementation. While equipment on Mars-1 will be able to maintain people's livelihoods for an indefinite period, there are limitations in the study, for example, the need to constantly replenish food and equipment that will only grow due to the natural increase in the population of the colony. After the publication of the study, Fusion contacted the initiator, Sydney Du (MIT PhD). According to S. Du for Discovery News, students created a “virtual Mars”, based on the requirements and limitations of “Mars-1”. Focusing on the activities of four people on Mars, the students created the necessary systems (air and water) to maintain the life of the team, and spare parts for repairing these systems. These data allowed us to create a station with the necessary conditions for human habitation on Mars.
“Essentially, Mars 2030 includes a more realistic visual environment,” said Du, describing himself as an ordinary player. “You can say that our research is just a minor work — it determines how much and what resources or technologies that are intended to meet a goal will be needed by the team, while Mars 2030 will visualize this information and create it based on it the plot of the game. "
Du served as a technical consultant for Fusion, providing them with information about Mars, in particular, about habitat, life support, food, team activities at the place of residence and on the open surface of Mars, station maintenance and waste disposal. He even took into account the protective properties of the planet and proposed, for example, to use sterile robots to study the surface of the planet before people set foot on it and damage the original biosphere.
The result, according to Reyes, is an open environment in which players can carry out Mars exploration missions, being confident that the missions coincide with the goals of NASA. The game is still perceived as a game, but Fusion “remains loyal to science when it is possible (without making things boring),” he said. Reyes said that, under favorable conditions, the game will become available for wide use at the end of the summer, initially based on the PC, and in the future there will be a mobile version and versions for other consoles. “There are still some unstable parts that need to be worked through to the end,” he added. According to MIT, the game will ultimately be available on the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, Samsung VR Gear, iPhone, Android and Twitch platforms.