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Grant Agreement




Project full title

Planetary mapping




D 8.15

Deliverable Name

CAVE Representation

Nature of deliverable


Dissemination level


Scheduled delivery date`

28th February 2021




Prepared by:

Stéphane Le Mouélic, Gwénaël Caravaca, Nicolas Mangold, Gloria Tognon

Table of contents

Executive summary


The main scope of this deliverable is to perform VRVR demonstrations of the products prepared in the framework of PlanMap. D8.15 “CAVE representation” was agreed during the course of the project to be reorganized as a live demonstration of VRVR products using VR headsets, which are complementary to the CAVE in order to reach a maximum number of participants and make the better use of the 3D and VR products made for the project as part of previous deliverables.

List of acronyms


3 Dimensions


Augmented Reality


Cave Automatic Virtual Environment


Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


Digital Outcrop Model


European Space Agency


Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique


Planetary mapping


Virtual Reality




The deliverable 8.15, led by CNRS-LPG, consists in a VR demonstration to the general public. While the use of a CAVE system was first envisaged, the demonstration was consequently agreed to be performed using VR headsets due to the constant development of technologically more advanced gear. Also, those headsets can be more easily transported to different events such as scientific conferences, team meetings, or outreach events.

We had several opportunities to perform VR demonstrations in various meetings before the pandemic (IMS 2019, Roma; EGU 2019, Vienna; EPSC-DPS 2019, Geneva), but also on-site at LPG, using VR experiences produced during the project. Whereas the final demonstration was originally supposed to be done in physical presence during a meeting, due to the COVID situation affecting all countries of PlanMap’s partners, it has been turned into a hybrid workshop, partially online and partially in-presence, that took place the 5th of February 2021.


Main outreach event – the PlanMap Winter School and the Cassini meeting


We decided to organize a scientific workshop on the “VR environments for planetary applications and training for astronauts”, focused on the innovative applications of VR in the planetary sciences. For the different talks, selected participants were invited to present their activities, such as Gwénaël Caravaca (CNRS-LPG), Stéphane Le Mouélic (CNRS-LPG), Nicolas Mangold (LPG-CNRS), Loredana Bessone (ESA) and Francesco Sauro (ESA, UNIBO-BiGeA).

Due to the pandemic outbreak, we have been forced to postpone the event, which was originally planned to be held in June 2020, and finally to convert it into a hybrid workshop, done both partially online and in-presence, that took place the 5th of February 2021. To allow the attendance of the greatest number of participants, we prepared a program featuring:

  • lectures open to all participants.
  • an online VR “field-work”-like experience available to participants equipped with VR headset at home and streamed to all participants.
  • an in-presence VR experience with science measurements tools available at the Department of Geosciences (UNIPD) of Padua and at the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique (LPG-CNRS) of Nantes .

The exact program of the hybrid event was as following:

  • 00-14.15

Introduction to the “Virtual Reality environments for planetary applications and training for astronauts” workshop

Gloria Tognon (UNIPD)

  • 15-15.00

Application of VR in the ESA-PANGAEA astronaut training and future applications in planetary geology exploration *

Loredana Bessone (ESA) and Francesco Sauro (ESA, UNIBO-BiGeA)

  • 00-16.15

From DOM to virtual environments *, **

Gwénaël Caravaca (LPG-CNRS), Stéphane Le Mouélic (LPG-CNRS) and Nicolas Mangold (LPG-CNRS)

  • 00-19.00

VR practical activity for science measurements ***

Gwénaël Caravaca (LPG-CNRS), Stéphane Le Mouélic (LPG-CNRS), Gloria Tognon (UNIPD) and Ilaria Tomasi (UNIPD)

The workshop has been advertised at and information for its advertising have been shared for the publication on the websites of Institut Français Italia (the promoter of the Cassini event), Center of Studies and Activities for Space “G. Colombo” of Padua and Department of Geosciences of Padua. It was also disseminated on the social media accounts of the European H2020 PlanMap project (Facebook, Twitter), as well as on the EPEC (EuroPlanet Early Career) network, and in the Europlanet newsletter.

The registration for the workshop was opened on the 21st of December 2020 but the great number of interested participants forced us to advance the closure of the registrations to the 15th of January 2021.

In total, we received 125 registrations by Bachelors, Masters, PhDs, Post-docs, and Research fellows from all around the world and from different scientific backgrounds.

Of those 125 participants, 25 were equipped with VR headset and, accordingly to the Covid19 restrictions and availability, 4 participants respectively for Padua and 4 for Nantes were selected to follow the workshop in presence with the possibility to use the VR headsets available in the labs, whilst respecting the Covid sanitary rules.

For the in-presence participants, we took all sanitary requirements to prevent the Covid19 diffusion: social distancing, face masks, hand-sanitizing gel, room aeration and sanitizing of headsets and controllers before and after every use.

The lectures took place in Zoom and they have been recorded and put at disposal of asynchronous participants, namely those participants that due to the different time zone and availability were not able to follow the real-time event. In total, 50 participants followed the real-time workshop.

For the “DOM to virtual environment” hybrid event, we started with a general lecture on VR, followed by a description of the use cases of VR in the framework of PlanMap (Fig. 1). This included mainly the description of

  • the Sketchfab online platform functionalities, with the PlanMap related 3D models ( and
  • The description (and live demonstration on zoom) of the VR flyby experience and the VR measurement tools on Kimberley (Mars) developed in the framework of the D5.3 and D5.4 (Caravaca et al., 2020, 2021). We have shown how to use the application, so that all students equipped with Headsets can download the app on the PlanMap data portal and experience it at their own rhythm.
  • The description and the use in real time of a VR public meeting room on the Kimberley outcrop on Mars (Fig. 2) using SteamVR public platform.



Figure 1: Example of the use cases of VR that were described during the talk.

Figure 2: The VR meeting room that we have set up on SteamVR (credits CNRS/LPG) for the D8.15 events.

The VR experience open to all participants with headset took place in SteamVR at the Kimberley outcrop (Mars), an environment put at disposal to the public by LPG-CNRS (Fig. 2). Students received in advance all the required information so that they could connect during the live event and join us on Mars. During this experience, the participants had the possibility to visit the Kimberley outcrop and to observe the Curiosity rover and its robotic arm, with a 3D model of the drill performed at this site (models were produced and delivered as part of the D5.2; Caravaca et al. 2019b). A guided tour was organized by G. Caravaca, to show directly in VR the most interesting geological features (sedimentary layers, rover tracks, dry gullies, drill hole, etc.).

During the last session of the workshop, the interactive VR experience with geological science measurements took place again at the Kimberley outcrop and its surroundings in an environment realized by the PlanMap team, as part of the Working Group 5 for Ground truth and VR (see description in deliverable 5.3, Caravaca et al., 2020). During this experience, the participants from Nantes and Padua were able to meet in VR inside the PlanMap environment (we reached up to 8 people connected at the same time) and to take geological measurements on the surface of Mars by means of dedicated tools for measuring distances, angles, dip, strike, and best fit planes (as described D.5.3; Fig. 4).

Figure 3: Several students were connected at the same time in VR during the hybrid lecture, allowing both those who want to follow the Zoom meeting and those who were able to join in VR to interact directly on Mars, while we were giving the explanations (seen in G. Caravaca webcam in the middle; image credits CNRS/LPG).



Figure 4: Virtual fieldtrip on the Kimberley outcrop, organized between PlanMap’s participating labs. Students both from LPG at the University of Nantes and at the University of Padova were meeting together and discussing about the use of VR measurement tools in the Kimberley region (Gale crater) on Mars.

On the fly additional demonstrations of VR related to PlanMap activities

It should also be noted that in addition to the main event organized in February 2021, several VR demonstrations have been also organized “on the fly” during the course of the project towards students, scientific colleagues, teachers, and decision policy makers. Several demonstrations of preliminary VR products were carried out during the IMS (Roma, 2019), EGU (Vienna, 2019), EPSC (1 full week in sept. 2019, Fig. 5) international meetings, before the start of the pandemic.

Figure 5: VR demonstrations carried out during the week of the EPSC conference in Geneva (2019) on the LPG/CNRS booth, with the preliminary version of the VR measurement tools on the Kimberley region (Mars) described in D5.3.

Among these various demonstrations, we also had the opportunity to showcase the VR application with the geological measurement tools on Kimberley to the French Minister for scientific research, the president of the CNRS (French national research center), and the president of the University of Nantes during an official visit on 22nd of October 2020 in the lab in Nantes (Fig. 6).


Figure 6: VR demonstration at the LPG Planetology Lab in France in October 2020. Wearing VR headsets from right to left: F. Vidal (French Minister of research), A. Petit (President of CNRS), Carine Bernault (President of University of Nantes) and far left G. Caravaca leading the PlanMap display.



VR can be used in a variety of ways in Planetary Science, to contextualize, visualize or characterize large sets of 3D data gathered by the robotic probes sent to explore our solar system. To present and showcase this capacity experimented within PlanMap, several demonstrations were given during the project, with a main live hybrid event during the PlanMap Winter school. Each demonstration as well as the main hybrid event generated a very positive feedback from all participants, highlighting the highly appreciable contribution of VR to the visualization and characterization of geological features.

Materials posted on the PlanMap website will also allow interested users to test VR experiences on landing sites such as Gale crater (Kimberley area, cf. Deliverable 5.3), Jezero crater and Oxia Planum (cf. Deliverable 5.4, Fig. 7).

Figure 7: VR flyover Jezero crater and Oxia Planum.




We would like to thank VR2Planets for the application on the VR measurement tools on Kimberley.

Related references


Caravaca, G., Le Mouélic, S., Mangold, N., 2019a. Deliverable 5.1: Merged products (in GIS and as maps) of orbital and in situ data of Gale crater. URL:

Caravaca, G., Le Mouélic, S., Mangold, N., 2019b. Deliverable 5.2: 3D products of the merged GIS and maps of Gale crater. URL:

Caravaca, G., Le Mouélic, S., Mangold, N., 2020. Deliverable 5.3: 3D geomodels in Virtual Reality. URL:

Caravaca, G., Le Mouélic, S., Mangold, N., 2021. Deliverable 5.4: Release of the products for future landing sites. URL:

Caravaca G., Le Mouélic S., Mangold N., Le Deit L., 2021, “Using Virtual Reality tools to characterize and measure sedimentary series in Gale crater: a case study”, 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (online), Abstract #1169.

Le Mouélic S., Caravaca G., Mangold N., Wright J., Carli C., Altieri F., Zambon F., Van der Bogert C., H., Pozzobon R., Massironi M., De Toffoli B., Rossi A. P., 2021, “Using Virtual and Augmented Reality for planetary surfaces investigations – a case study on Mars and the Moon”, 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (online), Abstract #1514.

Le Mouélic S., Caravaca G., Mangold N., Wright J., Carli C., Altieri F., Zambon F., Van der Bogert C., Pozzobon R., Massironi M., Rossi A. P., De Toffoli B., 2020, “Using Virtual and Augmented Reality in Planetary Imaging and Mapping ­ a case study”, EPSC Virtual Meeting 2020, EPSC Abstracts, 14, EPCS2020-589, ⟨hal-02933216⟩ DOI: 10.5194/epsc2020-589.

Caravaca G., Mangold N., Le Mouélic S., Le Deit L., Massé M., 2020, “ ‘In situ’ characterization of the sedimentary record and structures using Virtual Reality: new insights from the Kimberley outcrop (Gale crater, Mars)”, EGU General Assembly 2020 (Vienna, Austria), Abstract EGU2020-4577, DOI: 10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4577

Caravaca G., Mangold N., Le Mouélic S., Le Deit L., Massé M., 2019., “Sedimentology of Kimberley outcrop (Gale Crater, Mars), using ‘in situ’ simulated field work in Virtual Reality”, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting (Geneva, Switzerland), EPSC Abstracts, 13, EPSC-DPS2019-410-1DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22791.96163

Caravaca G., Mangold N., Le Mouélic S., Le Deit L., Massé M., 2019, “A new assessment of the depositional record at Kimberley (Gale Crater, Mars) using Virtual Reality”, 34th IAS International Meeting of Sedimentology (Roma, Italy), DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.14403.35367

Le Mouélic S., Caravaca G., Mangold N., L’Haridon J., Le Deit L., Massé M., 2019, “Geologic mapping and stratigraphy of remote Martian outcrops using digital outcrop model and virtual reality: example of the Kimberley outcrop (Gale Crater, Mars)”, EGU General Assembly 2019 (Vienna, Austria), DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30728.24325

 Caravaca G., Le Mouélic S., Mangold N., L’Haridon J., Le Deit L., Massé M., 2019, “Digital outcrop model reconstruction and virtual reality integration of the Kimberley outcrop (Gale Crater, Mars) for geological ‘in situ’ analysis”, EGU General Assembly 2019 (Vienna, Austria), DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.17306.47044


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