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VR Reseach Class

Simulation of Space

SpaceCRAFT aims at making a virtual reality sandbox of space and it was this idea of being able to recreate such an environment that brought me to becoming part of the research team. It was during my first semester in this Research class when Dr. Chamitoff, the retired Astronaut to founded and ran the class, told me that his goal was to make the knowledge of space accessible to everyone, especially developing nations. This made me more interested in trying my best to make this a reality because I come from a country where there is a serious lack of information on space and extraterrestrial bodies.

After two semesters worth of practice, attending meetings and research, gave me a better understanding of how virtual reality was made. With the help of my team members, my knowledge of C++, Blender, Unreal Engine, and Solidworks grew. 


During my first semester of research, I joined the Demo templates team because I wanted to focus on becoming proficient in unreal and blender. In this sub-group, we have been working on the mars and moon Terrain.


My team and I imported landscapes from blender and worked to make it look more realistic and graphical by adding stones as well as editing the atmospheric environment. We also had team members who added fog to also contribute to making the terrain look more realistic. We manipulated the template to make it look infinite. Our goal was to create a useable virtual reality and box of mar and the moon.

Here are a few pictures of my first attempt at the Mars Terrain during my first semester in the research class. 

The image below was the level of abstraction that my team and I were aiming for at the end of the research class with implementation of dust storms and allowing the residue to settle on objects and space gear. 

During the next semester of the Research class, we shifted our gears to the moon terrain and we also found put we could retrieve online moon-like textures online and modify it to look like mars. Thereby, making our approach to the mars terrain easier. We got all our textures from Here are some pictures texture I chose to download. 

This landscape texture made the moon seem more like a beach so I added decided to modify the gradients and variables to adjust the texture.

After, various attempts, even trying to create it from scratch, I  was able to create a terrain I was satisfied with. Later during that semester, I merged my final texture and the height map of from the Apollo 17 trip. This made everything start to coming together. 


After a lot of modification, I was able to design a close enough terrain, but things like the Lightning source and direction need to be implemented. The absence of this is why you can see the squares in the image. 

Along with this I also started working on 3D modeling and functionality of the users in the 3D space. Below are images of things I made with Unreal Engine, the software used to create the simulation. 


I worked on the first-person character above and changed a lot of its functionality using the blueprint section of unreal. The changes made can be seen in the picture above.  

I summary, This research class was an amazing experience for me. It opened my eyes to space exploration, NASA, and 3d modeling which, helped me in my future endeavors like in Tesla. I was also very blessed to have worked with a retired NASA astronaut, Dr. Chamitoff who has great plan for the world.  


I was in this class from spring 2016 - Fall 2017 (one year). If you want to see more info about this research class, SPACECRaft, I have attached the class booklet and the link to the SpaceCraft website. Have fun! 

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