Observations Video
Gallery Camera Video



We Are Stardust, 2008 [Click here for Updated Web Page]
Installation, Dimensions Variable
2 screen projection, rotating infrared surveillance camera

“We Are Stardust” is a two-screen projection installation with infrared camera that maps the sequence of NASA sky observations from 2003 to the present through the Spitzer Space Telescope, an infra-red temperature sensing instrument that is orbiting the sun, and trailing in the earth's orbit.

The intent of the project is to consider the question of how we imagine our place in space and time at the grand scale, and where scientists are looking into space. This is realized by visually mapping the schedule of scientific observations. The schedule, consisting of data as to what celestial bodies were looked at, when, for how long, and by whom, provides an overview of the program's activities.

There are two main visual projections, one representing deep space, the other the local space of the gallery. The map of the universe is projected and inscribed with the traces of the Spitzer telescope's observations. The other consists of an infrared camera's continuous movements in the gallery that replays the history of the telescope's movements. By being situated in the exhibition space, it visually records spectators' thermal presence and actions.

"We Are Stardust" is a commissioned installation artwork by the Art Center College of Design, and NASA's Spitzer Science Center’s Education and Public Outreach office, both based in Pasadena. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is a sun-orbiting, infrared observatory, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and located on the California Institute of Technology campus. The installation will be featured in the "Observe" exhibition at the Art Center College of Design between October 10, 2008 and January 11, 2009, and will then move to the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany.

"We Are Stardust" installation lay-out (Click here for video): Far left projection features skymap markings representing space locations were Spitzer scientists have been collecting data. Beam sketches out sequential viewings of star locations. Fully rotational infrared camera in exhibition space replays movements of Spitzer telescope viewing of the universe. Far right projection features what the camera is seeing in the exhibition space.


Universe Space (Left Screen Animation)

Animation of the map of the universe inscribed with the traces of the Spitzer telescope's observations (Click on image)

InfraRed Camera (Right Screen)

Animation of the infrared gallery visualization (Click on image)

Spitzer Telescope
The Spitzer telescope was launched on Monday, 25 August, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It follows a rather unusual orbit, heliocentric instead of geocentric, following Earth in its orbit, and drifting away from Earth at approximately 0.1 astronomical unit per year (a so-called "earth-trailing" orbit). The primary mirror is 85 cm in diameter, f/12 (i.e. the focal length is 12 times the diameter of the primary mirror) and made of beryllium and cooled to 5.5 K. The satellite contains three instruments that will allow it to perform imaging and photometry from 3 to 180 micrometers, spectroscopy from 5 to 40 micrometers, and spectrophotometry from 5 to 100 micrometers.

Telescope Information | Spitzer Hardware | Spitzer Orbit | Current Telescope Location

Mapping the NASA Data
Spitzer Telescope Schedule | Spitzer Science Center Statistics of the ROC | Map Projections

The 3 Spitzer Infrared Instruments
Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) | Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) | Infrared Spectrograph (IRS)

Infrared Camera
FLIR Indoor Thermal Camera | D-Series Thermal Dome Camera | What Is Infrared?

Andres Burbano links
Galaxy Visualizations | Millenium Movement Simulation | Logarithmic Map | Google Sky Spitzer

Project Production Team
George Legrady, artist, project manager; Andres Burbano, artist, researcher; Javier Villegas, project engineer, infrared and 3D visualization; Tyler Beckert, 3D visualization.

“We Are Stardust” is sponsored by the NASA’s Spitzer Science Center, California Institute of Technology; Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena; UC Santa Barbara Faculty Senate Research Grant; Media Arts & Technology, UCSB; The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts; and FLIR Systems.

George Legrady (c) 2008