ESA title


Virtual Reality (VR)

Paulo Sacramento, Solenix

Immersive Experience was ranked at number 6 in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019. This category encompassed virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies that are changing the way in which people perceive the digital world. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies and 25% will be using them in production. The Φ-lab hosts a permanent VR installation developed and deployed in partnership with NORCE, the Norwegian Research Centre. This installation utilises general purpose VR hardware, general purpose VR software and NORCE’s GeoViz software.

Astronaut Luca Parmitano (left and right, with D/EOP Josef Aschbacher)
and ESA DG Jan Wöerner during ESRIN 50 years event (bottom). Credits: ESA

The GeoViz software allows the user to navigate and explore a 3D globe of Earth as well as to fly to other planets/satellites (e.g. the Moon). ESA EO promotion and outreach materials, consisting of processed EO satellite imagery as well as infographics and videos can be explored via this virtual environment. Users can choose which locations to explore and, for each of those locations, which EO images/products to examine (typical products are Sentinel-2 band combinations, Sentinel-3 scenes and Sentinel-1 derived products such as interferograms, coherence and intensity). GeoViz is also able to display 3D models (e.g. of spacecraft, buildings), point clouds (e.g. of cities, sites, inSAR showing soil subsidence) and laser scans (e.g. of plantations). It is also possible to visualise hyperspectral data: hyperspectral datasets can be loaded and users can browse through 200 bands or more in a matter of seconds using convenient VR controller buttons.

The Φ-lab engineering support team. Credits: ESA

The permanent Φ-lab VR installation is normally deployed in the Φ-lab’s Archimedes mini-theatre, but it is also regularly used to support events, both inside and outside ESRIN, in several locations around Europe (ESRIN 50 years, Living Planet Symposium, Φ-Week, European Researcher’s Night, EGU, SLUSH, Maker Faire).

Building Capacity