Menu set up for the Earth, Moon and Mars in the HoloLens App

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. Increasingly we are collaborating with faculty in departments across the WUSTL Arts and Sciences to incorporate AR into their teaching and scholarship.

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.

The Fossett Lab is hiring a postdoc! Are you interested in data analysis, visualization, and science outreach? Click here for more info.


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 Version 2 for iOS and Android to allow the exploration of geologic structures in 3D from around the world, the Moon, and Mars. GeoXplorer is also available as a Microsoft HoloLens application. Head here for download links.


The Fossett Lab has also recently released SeismicityAR – an Apple iOS application that allows users to explore earthquake locations within the USGS catalog in 3D using AR.


For more information, please contact:

In the press

(most recent first)

GeoXplorer in Ars Technica

GeoXplorer in the EPS departmental news and the uses of GeoXplorer for hybrid learning

Blog post about the iOS and Android GeoXplorer application from WUSTL Center for Teaching and Learning.

Listen to Martin Pratt and Alex Boghosian be interviewed on The Versatilist podcast.

Boghosian, A.L., Pratt, M.J., Becker, M.K., Cordero, S.I., Dhakal, T., Kingslake, J., Locke, C.D., Tinto, K.J. and Bell, R.E. (2019), Inside the ice shelf: using augmented reality to visualise 3D lidar and radar data of Antarctica. Photogram Rec, 34: 346-364. doi:10.1111/phor.12298

With graduate student Amanda Price, Grand Prize winner of NASA’s 2019 Data Visualization and Storytelling Competition. Video.

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