One of the things that made the Homo naledi discovery so remarkable was that it took a special team of “underground astronauts” to traverse the tight and extremely tricky Rising Star cave system before the fossils could be reached.

To help Professor Lee Berger and the other scientists, who could never set foot in the cave themselves, the caving team used the latest technology to create detailed 3D scans that covered the terrain around the cave entrance all the way down to the final Dinaledi chamber, some 30 metres below the surface.

The final result is impressive in its own right, and also helps the public to understand the process of scientific discovery:

An academic paper has since been published, titled Multimodal spatial mapping and visualisation of Dinaledi Chamber and Rising Star Cave, explaining the scanning and modelling process in more detail.

For a fantastic “fly-through” experience of the entire 3D model, narrated by two of the cave explorers, check out the video below:

The pioneering spirit of the Rising Star expedition will continue to shape how future scientific discoveries are made.