The Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration is an innovative facility for teaching and research managed by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and housed in Rudolph Hall. In the Fossett Lab we collect, visualize, and explore three dimensional data from the atomic to the planetary scale. To do so, we use traditional and aerial photography, remotely-sensed planetary data, photogrammetry, and Microsoft’s HoloLens Augmented Reality (AR) platform.

The Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration also supports some research and outreach activities within the Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory, including use of virtual reality to help plan
the Mars Curiosity rover paths.

Current projects include:

OnSight HoloLens app developed by NASA/JPL in collaboration with Microsoft

  • Visualization and comparison of crystal structures for teaching mineralogy
  • Construction of outcrop scale (meters to kilometers) holographic models for visualizing 3D geologic structures
  • Construction of holographic models of minerals from the Rudolph Collection
  • Development of an augmented reality ice sheet to explain mass balance to a general audience
  • Use of HoloLens for path planning for the Curiosity Mars Rover
  • Make available all Earth and Planetary related 3D models through GeoBase


The Fossett Lab has recently released GeoXplorer – a Microsoft HoloLens application that allows the user to explore geologic structures in 3D from around the world, the Moon, and Mars.


For more information, please contact:

In the press

(most recent first)

Virtual Reality Comes to the Classroom in The Chronicle of Higher Education

The latest from the Fossett Lab in Washington University’s The Ampersand

The Fossett Lab being used in the classroom from Inside Higher Ed

Read about the Fossett Lab in Washington University’s The Source