Sound of Space Debris

Sound of Space Debris is audio visual installation and immersive performance based on space debris data, made in collaboration with Spacebase New Zealand and Precyzja Foundation. Piece is linking art and science, through generative visualisations and modular synthesis. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the space debris as an issue and hazard in the space environment.

In this project we are using only 10 out of all 43000 tracked objects larger then 10cm orbiting the Earth. These are mix of functioning units, small satellites and large objects including left over rocket upper stages. The sample of 10 objects includes operational Iridium communication satellites, non-functioning research spacecraft from the U.S., and rocket upper stages and debris launched by China and the Soviet Union over previous decades. The satellites and space debris objects orbit overhead at 8 kilometres per second (29,000 kph). Rocket Lab launches from New Zealand are designed to minimise contributions to the debris problem, and some experiments are being conducted to remove debris, but the large number of objects remain a problem.

The installation is using 10 objects with computed relative positions with respect to geographic location of the site it is presented. During the period of 21 March 19:00-23:00 NZDT, 2018. Piece was showcased on New Frontiers conference (New Zealand, 2018) using Wellington coordinates provided by the U.S. Air Force. These are presented in space on eight speaker array using spatial sonification and visualisation of trajectories and size of the objects.

Immersive audiovisual performance uses 8.1 sound system and utilises the data to position the sound in the room. Sounds of Space Debris are generated with modular synthesiser and panned using Max/MSP and IRCAM’s SPAT extension for sound spatialisation. Piece is semi generative and different each time due to the use of data, patch and modules used in the system. Concert was premiered in Resonanzraum, Hamburg at ePhil concert series (Nov, 2018).

Jakub Hader – visual design
Radek Rudnicki – sound design
Eric Dahlstrom, Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom – scientific advice

Project is part of Interplay and is supported and co-funded via research funding grant by College of Creative Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.

See blow pictures from concert in Resonanzraum, Hamburg, preparation of the installation and the installation itself.