Fans of PC videogames tend to love modding. From fixing persistent bugs that the developers couldn’t eliminate, or adding cut content back in, or just doing something crazy, mods have become an integral part of the PC videogame scene. That added value now comes to virtual reality (VR) with the availability of the Mars 2030 Editor.
Mars 2030 was launched in July 2017 as part of a partnership between Fusion Media Group and NASA as an attempt to create a VR simulation of what it would be like to be the first astronaut to arrive on Mars.
Mars 2030 and its suite of editing tools have been used by NASA to build space simulation systems, such as the astronaut gravity testing system ARGOD at the Johnson Space Center. There are also plans for NASA’s Langley Research Center to use the software to test its Mars TransHabitat.
The Mars 2030 editor is powered by Unreal Engine 4, and features all of the 3D models, assets, terrain, systems and audio used to build Mars 2030, including:
- 40 km2 of HI-RISE terrain data (Mawrth Vallis).
- Digital assets such as the MMSEV, Valkyrie, Z2 Spacesuit, Launch Entry Suit, EMC Habitat, Geolab Unit, Solar Panel Units, Geology Specimens, ECLSS, Hygiene Modules, Kilopower Stations, VEGGIE Unit, ISRU stations, Generic MDV and Copernicus MTV, Inflatable Field Camp Habitats, Sleeping Quarters, Galley and more.
- A custom waypoint system and autopilot mode for driving the Mars Rover.
- A custom physics system for 6-axis vehicle.
- The ambisonic audio of an MMSEV.
- A first-person astronaut character.
- The ability to extract files and assets for use in other projects.
- The ability to import terrain data for creating all-new environments.
Those interested in experimenting with the Mars 2030 Editor can download Mars 2030 from Steam, and access the editing tool from the Modding tab of the Epic Games launcher. The results can be shared on the Unreal Engine mod forums.