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The October 2016 NASA JPL news article Art Turns Public Eyes (and Ears) Toward Space describes an artistic interpretation of the communications between a number of NASA Earth satellites and ground stations.

The Orbit Pavilion is a sound installation opening Saturday, Oct. 29, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The installation lets listeners "hear" 19 of NASA's Earth science satellites pass over them, providing a fun and engaging way to learn about space. It originally debuted in 2015 as part of New York's World Science Festival.

The article goes on to explain that the communication "causes" the interpretive sounds to be generated:

From the outside, the installation looks like a giant, futuristic seashell; enter, and you can hear as satellites approach the horizon and sail overhead. Each satellite causes speakers to generate a simulated sound, ranging from desert winds to a crashing wave or rustling leaves. A digital screen identifies the individual satellites, providing an opportunity to learn how they contribute to NASA's science missions. (emphasis added)

Question: I am wondering if the installation's electronics sampling some website or data link in order to be triggered by an actual communication, or was it just programmed with a previously scheduled communications plan, and timers initiated the sounds, or perhaps something else?



Further Background:

Orbit is the brainchild of The Studio at JPL, an art and design workshop that develops creative ways to educate the public on space exploration. Since 2003, the team has developed everything from expoplanet travel posters to digital light sculptures, all with the aim of increasing public awareness of space science.

The team collaborated with Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of Brooklyn-based architectural firm STUDIOKCA, who conceived of and designed Orbit's seashell structure. They also collaborated with Shane Myrbeck, who composed Orbit's soundscape and engineered the audio system.

below: Images from NASA JPL News; Click for full size.

Caption: Looking over the Orbit Pavilion, a sound installation designed to teach the public about NASA's earth science satellites. The installation was designed at JPL and opens to the public at The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens on Oct. 29, 2016. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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    $\begingroup$ Geez I miss the nice SoCal weather! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 11 '18 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ At one point the canopies over the guard shacks at JSC lit up blue when the ISS flew overhead. Science! $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 29 '18 at 0:30
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You are asking to see behind the mask of Oz the All Powerful, All Seeing, All Knowing. Tread not lightly into this domain O Seeker! Ye risk much.

As someone once said, "just programmed with a previously scheduled communications plan, and timers initiated the sounds". Perhaps you too, one day, may step behind the sacred curtain of knowledge and beguile the world. And if we must quibble about directness of causation, only think hard on the butterfly effect and entanglement. Is synchronicity of purpose or schedule causal? Perhaps. Or not. These distinctions blur.

And yet.

In this, what matters more? The knowledge, or the wonder that leads one to seek the knowledge?

Happy orbiting!

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't provide information on the question. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Jun 28 '18 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ For the sake of wonder itself (the purpose of the exhibit), some questions should remain unanswered. $\endgroup$ – OyaMist Jun 28 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate your humor and insight very much! With a reputation greater than 50, you are allowed to post comments here. That might be a better way to go in this case. I believe deletion will boost you a few more points as well, since it seems you've collected a few down votes here currently. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 28 '18 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ I accept the downvotes as deserved. And yet I would propose that this question remain unanswered. The Orbit exhibit is absolutely magical. $\endgroup$ – OyaMist Jun 28 '18 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ a tiny bit of "space art" right here in SE then ;-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 29 '18 at 0:44

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