Mars interactive exploration based on reconstruction and visual analysis

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

The ExoMars Rover mission will provide a heterogeneous set of data from different instruments captured on the surface of Mars, in large part imagery for science target selection, navigation, or close-up detailed visual analysis for geology, complemented by multi-spectral imagery from orbiters. Images will be supplemented with georeferenced sensor data such as from the WISDOM ground penetrating radar instrument, looking into the Mars subsurface.

The Analytic Laboratory Drawer inside the Rover body makes punctual observations from samples acquired by a drill. A comprehensive and efficient analysis of this wealth of heterogeneous science data demands a sophisticated workflow that takes account for the heterogeneity of data and allows an overview of interconnections between different data entities.

Although the instrument data and its PDS4 archiving interfaces are already established in the respective ROCC-to-Instrument ICDs (ROCC…Rover Operations Control Centre; ICD…Interface Control Document), currently concepts are missing for the support of a holistic analysis of all the versatile scientific data from the entire rover mission.

Contents and goals

Therefore, the goal of the MINERVA project is to provide for the first time an integrative, holistic and analytic support for planetary scientists.

This will not merely make the analysis more efficient but the tight integration of heterogeneous analysis methods in real time will allow insights, which would be hard or impossible to obtain using isolated methods.

Major challenges are imposed by the huge data volume and by researching new interactive visualization methods based on, e.g., semantic annotations, meta-information and data modalities.


The prototype will consist of three tightly integrated components:

  1. Data base for scientific data products that also maintains analysis results.
  2. 3D Visualization Engine to navigate through 3D reconstructions of the Martian surface and for extensive geological interpretation using a variety of interactive measurement tools. This viewer provides important GIS functionalities such as orthographic view, superimposed rover tracks and capturing locations.
  3. Non-spatial visualization for in-depth investigation of data that allows the discovery of relations, properties and coherencies otherwise hidden.

Beside the science claim in the mission itself, research of the proposed project will focus on the holistic workflow and on specific ExoMars requirements, as well as the exploitation of the scheme for future missions and terrestrial applications.

Expected results

The project is intended to start on 1st July 2018 for 18 Months to fall into the final ExoMars 2020 testing and training phase where it is to be tested & validated by several instrument groups in cooperation.

Some of them have already expressed their interests by Letters of Support to MINERVA, also including the ROCC prime entity Thales Alenia Space Italy. The innovative concept will bring about a significant game-changing advance in the field of planetary science data understanding and exploitation.


Project Partners


JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH

Project partner

  • EOX IT Services GMBH
  • VRVis Center for Virtual Reality and Visualization Research Ltd.

Contact Address

JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Dipl.-Ing. Gerhard Paar
Steyrergasse 17
A-8010 Graz