Moon Village VR is an educational project developed and presented at the 'Moon Workshops' hosted by the European Space Agency Research and Test Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands. The goal of the project was to introduce people to ESA's vision to form a permanent human and robotic settlement on the Moon. By using Virtual Reality we were able to let people experience the environmental conditions near the Shackleton Crater ( the proposed location for the Moon Village at the Lunar South Pole) including light estimation and moon gravity, as well as showing the new proposals for the technologies to be developed for the first extra-terrestrial settlement.
Forming a permanent human settlement on the moon
New tools and space technologies are currently under developed for the proposed Moon Village. Virtual Reality will play a big role in assisting the human-robotic missions and the development of telepresence systems, as well as in training and preparing the future 'Moon Villagers'. Another important technology is 3D printing from moon dust. As the cost of carrying materials from Earth is too high, the Moon Village will be built using only resources found on the moon. Steady progress is already being made with several successful tests of 3D printed habitats using lunar regolith simulant to help protect the occupants against space radiation and micrometeoroids.
To help visualize how all of this would work, we developed the first VR experience where users can explore the future Moon Village and its environment, play with moon gravity, explore different lighting conditions, design habitats, and test some the technologies that will be used.
How it was made
We set out with the goal to let people experience actually being on the real surface of the moon. We therefore put realism as our main target and had to go a step beyond traditional game art workflows. Using a beautiful gallery of photos taken by the Yutu Chinese lander and a software called Agisoft Photoscan, we put together a 3D scan of a fairly large (50m) section of the moon surface.
Further work was required to fill in holes in the mesh and optimizing the size before bringing the 3D mesh into Unity for the first tests.
Peaks of Eternal Light
Another important aspect of the experience was light simulation. The proposed location for the Moon Village is at the Lunar South Pole near the Shackleton Crater. This location was chosen because there is aprox. 94% illumination all year round and because of recent evidence that there is ice at the bottom of the crater. Places with that much light are alluringly called "Peaks of Eternal Light" . Because the sunlight comes in at near 90° angle, the shadows are really dark, and the inside of the crater remains in permanent darkness.
On the road
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