NASA teamed up with high-tech experiential solutions provider Luster on a custom-built 3D mosaic sculpture that will be displayed at the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., today through Friday.
The sculpture, Artemis Generation, represents NASA’s Artemis lunar-exploration program, which is aiming to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024.
NASA said Artemis—Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology—is the first step of its long-term plan to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon with the goal of sending humans to Mars.
Lindsay Aitchison, a space suit engineer for NASA working on Artemis, said the new Space Launch System rocket would launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a distance of 250,000 miles, from Earth to the Gateway space station in lunar orbit.
The crew would then go to multiple destinations on the lunar surface, attempting to learn as much as they can about living on other worlds and practicing for eventual deep space missions to Mars.
“We’re using everything we’ve learned over six decades,” Aitchison said. “This is not a single mission. It’s about sustainable exploration for a long time.”
The crew will return to Earth aboard Orion at the end of this portion of Artemis.
People who are interested in being a part of the Artemis Generation sculpture can upload their selfies as public posts on Twitter or Instagram (but not in Instagram Stories), tagging @NASA and using the hashtag #NASAExhibit.
Luster CEO Michael Lipton said that a series of image optimization processes will ensure that the photos used on Artemis Generation look sharp, adding that image processing algorithms will determine where on the sculpture photos should be placed by analyzing colors, shapes, contrasts and hues.
He said that while the majority of the process is done programmatically, every image included on the sculpture will be “personally touched by our team” in order to ensure that the image is appropriate for the project.
The sculpture is 15 feet long and depicts the Artemis logo, and Luster said more than 3,000 user-generated photos will be placed onto it throughout IAC 2019.
“We want to, over the course of the event, go from having a blank sculpture to having a photo mosaic overlaid over it. We’re trying to create a painting without knowing what color it’s going to be,” said Lipton. “We can’t predict what content we’re going to get. Over the course of these five days, you will start to see this artwork evolving with time. It’s kind of a paint-by-numbers puzzle. This is the first time we’re doing that in the form of a sculpture.”
Artemis Generation marks the debut of Luster’s Mosaic Sculptures, which it describes as unique 3D pieces of art created in real-time via individual hashtagged images uploaded to social media.
“NASA is really great about going forward, getting its message out, sharing it and being storytellers,” said Aitchison, adding that the space suits being developed for Artemis will include HD cameras and HD video.
Lipton described Luster as an activation technology company, and said, “Our inventions entertain, they engage. We position them to be aligned with the brand and push the brand message forward. We’re not an advertising company. We invent things for people to have fun with. The best way to entertain and engage is to step out of the stream and give people a real-time experience.”
IAC 2019 will include almost 200 technical sessions, daily plenary sessions, panel discussions and special events aimed at inspiring global innovations in space.