The Most Awesome LED Light Art (in Space!) You’ll See This Side of the Galactic Core

The Most Awesome LED Light Art (in Space!) You’ll See This Side of the Galactic Core

To make LED light art in space you’ll need a handful of LEDs, power source, camera and, well, a rocket. The rocket isn’t for the art per se, but rather for exiting the earth’s gravitational pull and getting to space. That’s where JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata has a unique advantage over the bulk of us 7.046 billion or so terra-sapiens.

The experiments date back to 2009, when he first used the device called “Spiral Top,” developed in collaboration with light artist Dr. Takura Osaka, rendered below:

Astronaut Mouri introduced an interesting phenomena of a pair of pliers, that rotates constantly in circle motion for a while and suddenly, turns upside down. By placing LEDs on four arms of an object and by producing spiral motions due to the reversal phenomena (Fig. 1), the light trace of the LEDs becomes a light art. We simulated this phenomena using our numerical code, and helped to decide the appropriate shape and mass distribution.

He goes on to say,

The “Spiral Top” has four arms with LED lights blinking intermittently, and performs various reversal motions by changing the mass on each arm. It draws concentric circle and multi-spiral light trace in space. It became the world’s first light art in space.

The results are, in one word, incredible:



Koichi Wakata and his "Spinal Top" light art-making project.
Koichi Wakata and the “Spiral Top” light art-making project in space.

And during his current stay aboard the ISS he’s taken to broadcasting his project via Twitter:

Here’s a closer look at “Spinal Top” in zero-g:


[via Creators Project, images and video via this website]

12 thoughts on “The Most Awesome LED Light Art (in Space!) You’ll See This Side of the Galactic Core

  1. Robert Macias says:

    WOW, incredible eye candy… I have always wondered what they did up theere to kill time… Quick question what sort of time frame are we looking at for those exposures?

    1. Nick Normal says:

      Not sure. I even scraped Wakata’s Twitter to see if anybody else has asked – so far no luck. I’ll try and get a response myself. He says the LEDs blink ‘intermittently’ and so I suspect the exposures could be quite long.

  2. ameyring says:

    It’ll be cool to put LEDs on multicopters and and have them spin with long exposure for a similar effect under gravity!

  3. Diana says:

    Is fantastic!!

  4. Bhaskar Jyoti Deb says:

    Its a great timepass der… Great fun with technology….

  5. Bhaskar Jyoti Deb says:

    Technology is a fun….

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I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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