Solar System in VR

Extended Reality 3D Model Application in Space Exploration and Planetary Habitation


Developed by Mikhail NikolaenkoStudent, XR-Lab fellow, University of Cincinnati.


This research project incorporates the use of data science, astronomy, and VR to create a visually interactive learning tool for students, academics, enthusiasts, and professionals alike to learn about areas of space exploration that will be easily accessible to anyone with a VR device such as an Oculus Quest 2. The application will include an accurate mapping of different celestial bodies, such as planets and stars, and the model will be fully interactable through functions such as scaling, time manipulation, and highlighting. The uses of this proposed application range from basic elementary applications (e.g., learning about our solar system in astronomy courses) to astronomical data research (e.g., viewing spectra of celestial objects found by Gaia)

PDFs:  Final Report; Poster


Project Advisor: Ming Tang

Research Funding Source: University of Cincinnati Space Research Institute for Discovery and Exploration 

External Celestial Data: This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular, the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. 

Internal Solar System Data: Acton, C.H.; “Ancillary Data Services of NASA’s Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility;” Planetary and Space Science, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 65-70, 1996. DOI 10.1016/0032-0633(95)00107-7 

Charles Acton, Nathaniel Bachman, Boris Semenov, Edward Wright; A look toward the future in the handling of space science mission geometry; Planetary and Space Science (2017); DOI 10.1016/j.pss.2017.02.013 

References & Sources: 

1. NASA. (2018, December 14). NASA’s eyes: Eyes on exoplanets. NASA. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from

Demo at the 2023 Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase. 04.20.2023