Microsoft and 20th Century Fox partner on "The Martian" movie tie-in

Whether you're a hardcore science fiction fan, a science geek, or just love a romping adventure flick, you're probably looking forward to the October 2 broad release of "The Martian", one of the year's most hotly anticipated movies. Starting today, Microsoft will be right there with you, offering up a host of fun and informative activities to help build interest in the movie while offering opportunities to learn about Mars and space.

As posted on the Microsoft News Center blog, the company has partnered with 20th Century Fox to create The Hacking Mars Design Challenge:

The Hacking Mars Design Challenge invites teams to research and submit a three-to-five minute video about a product, service, app or game that would help Watney: stay alive (grow food, filter air, produce water), pass time (keeping hope alive, dealing with extreme isolation and constant stress) and get home (focusing on communication issues). They can tackle one topic or take on all three. The deadline for entries is Oct. 13.

The challenge website provides steps, instructions, a toolkit and other resources for the challenge. Participants will be able to tap into Microsoft experts via Skype and watch videos related to the film. Another big bonus: custom-made videos from Fox containing interviews with the novel’s author, Andy Weir, talking about the challenges Watney faces on Mars as they relate to those three topics.

The contest is open to anyone 18 years or older anywhere in the world, and three finalists will travel to Microsoft HQ and compete for a price package of $25,000 and a nice package of Microsoft products including Surface, Xbox One, and Microsoft Band. The contest is aimed at STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) students, but anyone can participate.

Bing will offer up considerable opportunities to learn about the Red Planet, NASA, and space via an "interactive experience" that merges actual images from Mars, Bing Maps, and Azure. The site will track the path that Mark Watney, the movie's protagonist, takes as he travels across Mars and culminating with him reaching his destination as the movie's release date arrives.

There's lots there to check out, and the festivities begin today. Head over to the Hacking Mars site and get started, whether you want to compete for the prize or just get hyped for the movie. Use the hashtag #HackMars to follow along on Twitter, and other resources are provided in the graphic below.

Hacking Mars resources.

Hacking Mars resources.

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