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Putting Buzz on Mars

Red Horizon VR: Human Journey to Mars

Programmer/Tech Art - Unity

A collaboration with Purdue's future astronauts in AAE and NASA for the Human Journey to Mars Project. The purpose is to simulate what life might be like on Mars in the near future, focusing on the everyday life for a Martian colonist.

Fun Things

The absolute coolest part of this project was getting the opportunity to put Dr. Buzz Aldrin on Mars in our VR simulation. I've always had a fascination with space so this was a surely a dream come true. Buzz's thoughts on this project: "Why do you need to go to Mars when you have this?"


My greatest challenge for this project was learning the responsibility of being a lead developer on any project, as this was my first VR application to date. Looking back, the code could have been much cleaner, but due to a 3 week deadline, I knew what was important to make the application work. This project also presented an interesting challenge by meeting with the engineers, botanists, and chemists in realizing a realistic functional design. Many of the scientists had an idea of what they wanted to see in their ideal virtual environment; however, lack of time meant I had to take some creative initiatives and had to make choices in what made it to the final build. Due to the project being limited with a small time window, many features had to be cut in order to realistically implement be able to be implemented. Here I felt the pain of having to put aside cool features for the sake of putting out the final project on time, but I was even more glad the project was completed just in time for Buzz Alrdin.

This project was an exercise in crunch mode, but the funniest anecdote comes out of the night before we are presenting it to Buzz. During QA testing, the designer found a terrible audio bug, that caused horrible screeching and a high volume, basically giving anyone watching/listening a horrible scare. Not wanting to be the one risking the bug and having any chance of being the one to give Buzz Aldrin a heart attack, I worked all the night to solve the bug and ensured it was was not occurring further. Luckily the bug was quashed, and Buzz Aldrin got to experience our virtual Mars in the way it was intended by all the talented artists on the team.

As the primary developer, my tasks included programming navigation, animations, gameplay, audio, and UI. Built using Unity in C#. Ported for HTC Vive.

Here are some articles on the project:

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