Behind the Scenes
Remotely control a rover maneuvering its way across the hazardous Mars terrain. Dodge the unpredictable dust devils and large dust storms as you try to take samples from targets scattered across the Martian landscape. And race against other players to piece together a collection of goals to make your mark on the scientific landscape.
Based on prototype rover missions planned for the mid 2020s, your six-wheeled robotic explorer is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (nuclear battery), and equipped with an on-board sample-analysis lab, ranged sensor equipment, multiple cameras, a rocker-bogie suspension, satellite uplink capabilities and an articulated sample-acquisition arm.
Rover XPL is a strategy, puzzle and exploration game all in one. The game lets you compete with other players to make discoveries as you navigate across the richly rendered surface of Mars. You’ll pursue a variety of missions as you pick your way along the treacherous terrain, learning that an overhead satellite-view of the planet is quite different from the “ground truth” of slogging along the surface.
Although the terrain represented in the game is based on images from satellite scans and the photos from the MER missions, some details of the surface have been re-imagined to enhance gameplay. And of course, real-time control over Mars-bound rovers isn’t possible, given the vast distances separating Mars from Earth and the limits of even light-speed communications traffic. For example, the MER Mission (the rovers Spirit and Opportunity) can take many hours from the time NASA issues an instruction until a response and status-update is received. Future rovers will likely be controlled through a combination of onboard artificial intelligence and high-level directives issued from Earth-bound operators. The Rover XPL game also lets you see your rover moving across the terrain, while actual scientists have the trickier job of interpreting the rover’s position from images taken by the rover itself.
Each goal in the game includes a spectrograph-like coloured icon, visible on the Map when choosing a goal to pursue. Players who complete goals with matching icon-patterns gain more points to simulate the sequence of data needed to verify a discovery. Players can cooperate with one another to collect icons they need, or compete to cut each other off from piecing together more valuable collections of goals.
Download, log in and play with or against other players as you race to solve the mysteries of Mars.
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Download Rover XPL
Life in Space