Virtual reality (VR) technology has great potential in supporting planetary scientists and the field of geosciences by offering immersive and interactive experiences for data exploration and analysis. This paper shows the opportunities presented by the use of VR technology in the geosciences domain while also identifying the open challenges associated with this integration. Our focus is on highlighting the several benefits that VR brings, including stereo vision, head tracking, and collaborative capabilities. These features can foster knowledge exchange and interdisciplinary research. Nevertheless, the adoption of VR presents certain challenges that need to be addressed. These include maintaining high refresh rates, handling large heterogeneous datasets, and striking a balance between visualization fidelity and performance. Fortunately, significant advancements have been made in high-performance data analysis, progressive data streaming, and real-time visualization, enabling interactive exploration of large-scale datasets within VR environments. To support a broader adoption among domain experts, we propose a visualization approach that scales both with display and with data size. As such, the system can be used to interactively explore large-scale datasets in immersive environments like CAVEs or powerwalls, on HMDs, or on traditional desktop setups. This approach allows for seamless transitions between desktop and VR experiences, leveraging immersive environments for collaboration and outreach activities. In this paper, we present an architectural framework, hardware environments, use cases, lessons learned, and the future potential of VR in this field. Through this scalable system, we anticipate transformative advancements in scientific exploration, collaboration, and knowledge dissemination.

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