Orbit Pavilion pictured from above at the May 2015 World Science Festival at New York University. Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Though more than 2,000 man-made satellites currently orbit the earth, most people never think about the multitudes of spacecraft. Through a traveling, immersive sound installation that creates a symphony from the sounds of satellites in space, NASA, in partnership with Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm STUDIOKCA, aims to bring greater awareness of these data-gathering objects to Earthlings.
The NASA Orbit Pavilion tracks the trajectories of 19 NASA satellites orbiting the Earth in real time, and converts their paths into 3D sound. Visitors can enter the nautilus-shaped structure to listen to the sounds of the satellites as they fly over, under, and around them. The positional data is constantly updated to translate each spacecraft's orbit to sounds emanating from a 28-channel hemispherical loudspeaker array.
Image courtesy of David Delgado / NASA JPL
The curving structure was constructed out of 3,500 square feet of aluminum, with a large oculus at its center. The design was inspired by the sonic effect of putting a seashell to one’s ear. The shape of the shell amplifies normally inaudible frequencies, creating an oceanic effect. Similarly, the curvature of the NASA Orbit Pavilion lets visitors walk into a massive shell and listen to the normally inaccessible sounds of satellites winging through space.