This NASA pavilion broadcasts sounds from satellites
Leanna GarfieldFeb 4, 2016, 01:10 IST
StudioKCAThe Orbit Pavilion by StudioKCA.StudioKCA
Some 500 miles above Earth, a cluster of satellites float, collect, and transmit data from space. They gather valuable information on the planet's oceans and atmosphere and beam it down to the scientists at NASA.
Down on the ground, we're relatively oblivious to all this. A new art exhibit from NASA and Brooklyn architecture firm StudioKCA gives us the opportunity to experience the sounds of the satellites first-hand.
Step inside the conch-shaped Orbit Pavilion at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.
The pavilion is 30 feet in diameter and features a large oculus in the center. StudioKCA bolted 72 aluminum panels together, creating a curved shape that resembles a seashell.
The design mimics the action of holding a conch to your ear and hearing the ocean. "We thought if people could walk into a massive shell and 'listen' to the sounds of satellites in space, that would be an interesting way to capture and interact with this data," StudioKCA's principal and the pavilion's lead designer Jason Klimoski tells Tech Insider.
The pavilion acts as a 3D sound chamber, echoing ambient sounds and trajectories of 19 NASA satellites. When visitors enter the pavilion, they can hear distinct sounds of the satellites in real time.
The StudioKCA team worked with composer Shane Myrbeck to map, translate, and broadcast the satellite sounds. He placed a series of surround-sound speakers inside the pavilion and assigned a sound to each satellite.
For example, a visitor may hear the sound of a swaying tree branch in their left ear and then a crashing wave in their right, followed by the voice of a human or the croaks of a frog. It was important for the sounds to be unique, so that they wouldn't blend together in the chamber, Jason Klimoski says.
The sounds speed up and slow down, mimicking the paths of the satellites.
With the interactive exhibit, NASA and StudioKCA hope to inspire children to get excited about the future of space exploration and astronomy.
Apollo inspired a whole generation of kids to go into engineering, math, and science," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said at the exhibit's opening. "They didn't end up all working for NASA, but I think NASA plays a really important inspirational role in getting kids to go into STEM subjects.
Although NASA's Orbit Pavilion isn't a completely realistic interpretation of what's happening in space, it's a way to instill wonder in the next generation of scientists. Just listen for yourself: