'Listen' to Satellites Whiz Around Earth With NASA's Orbit Pavilion
A bevy of satellites hurtle high above the Earth, collecting data about the planet’s atmosphere, biosphere, and oceans—an important process that goes mostly unnoticed by land-dwellers below.
We may be able to see some satellites passing in the night sky, but we're still mostly oblivious to the work they do. So NASA wanted us to experience them in other ways. According to WIRED, they hired Brooklyn-based architecture studio StudioKCA to create the NASA Orbit Pavilion, a seashell-shaped aluminum structure that tracks the International Space Station and 19 individual satellites via sound.
Visitors walk into the enclosure and are surrounded by a variety of soothing noises—chirping crickets, crashing waves, swaying tree branches, etc.—that move from one side of the room to the other via a network of speakers. The movement of the sound corresponds to an individual satellite’s movement, allowing you to trace the craft’s journey as it whizzes across the sky.
The presentation lasts for five minutes—far shorter than satellites’ actual orbital periods. Also, keep in mind that satellites don’t actually make these noises in real life. Bottom line? The Orbit Pavilion is intended to be more representational than literal. Still, it does a good job of letting ordinary people experience something of the satellites' extraterrestrial whirl without having to blast off in a rocket.
Right now, the Orbit Pavilion is at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. This summer, you'll be able to find it in the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. For more information on the space-inspired installation piece, watch the above video courtesy of Bedford + Bowery, a hyperlocal web collaboration between New York magazine and New York University.
All images courtesy of Vimeo