MARSHALLTOWN, IA--(Marketwire - March 3, 2008) - Mechdyne Corporation today announced that it has installed an immersive CAVE™ display system as the focal point of the new Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration at Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL). As a teaching and research facility of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, the Laboratory will provide 3D imaging capability for visualization of data collected by national and international space exploration programs. One highlight of the Fossett Laboratory's work in 2008 will be immersive visualizations of imagery gathered as part of the ongoing Mars Exploration Program.

The new CAVE system supports stereoscopic projection on three walls and the floor (each 7.5' h x 10' w) to create a surround screen environment. Mechdyne integrated its Beacon™ projection technology along with a wireless motion tracking system and virtual wand that allows scientists to easily 'fly' through visualizations. Mechdyne also provided its CAVELib software and Conduit for ArcGIS, which is used to 3D-enable data to create a fully immersive, virtual reality experience in the CAVE.

"The CAVE system installed in the Fossett Laboratory brings a unique capability to faculty, students and guest researchers working to interpret data from man's exploration of planetary bodies throughout the solar system," said Professor Raymond Arvidson, chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at WUSTL. "We can effectively transport groups of people to the surface of other planets and create experiences that will illuminate and enhance understanding of the geology and geophysics both of other planets and our own home."

The Laboratory, which was funded through a gift from noted adventurer and WUSTL alumnus Steve Fossett, is an important addition to the Earth & Planetary Sciences facilities at WUSTL. The Lab includes the CAVE system, housed in a purpose-built room, along with a graphics computing cluster based on HP quad-processor servers and NVidia graphics.

Washington University is home to the Geosciences Node ( of the NASA Planetary Data System (, with responsibility for management of data related to the study of the surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies. For the Mars visualizations, researchers at the Fossett Laboratory will draw on data from such missions as Mars Global Surveyor, 2001 Mars Odyssey, the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Phoenix. WUSTL houses more than 10 TB (Terabytes) of data collected in various NASA missions, including hyperspectral imagery gathered by orbital systems and landers. The facility also has access to visual imagery from other PDS nodes, which will be combined with spectral data to provide data rich imagery.

"Tools such as the CAVE are necessary not only to help us better understand the data we are collecting but also to help draw the best and brightest new students to the field of planetary sciences," said Keith Bennett, Deputy Manager for Operations of the PDS Geosciences Node. "This may be the first planetary geosciences facility in the world with a dedicated 'virtual reality' imaging center, giving us the potential to perform first-of-its-kind work in data integration and analysis. During the next few months, we will be evaluating techniques for working with the data to get the most out of the unique capability of the visualization environment."

About Mechdyne Corporation

Mechdyne Corporation is the world's largest company dedicated to consulting and development of immersive, networked and collaborative visualization systems. The company addresses complex projects where an in-depth understanding of user requirements leads to the development of products and customized solutions involving elements of visual, software and support systems. Mechdyne's product divisions provide advanced display technology, audio/visual systems design, and implementation services, as well as immersive and interactive software development and support. Headquartered in Marshalltown, Iowa, Mechdyne's customers include leading government laboratories, military research programs, energy companies and a variety of 'edutainment,' manufacturing, and other users of visualization technology. More information is available at

Contact Information: For more information: Jeff Brum Mechdyne Corporation 519-664-0036, ext. 221 Matt Schmidt FS Communications 650-691-1488