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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Light painting in space

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Koichi Wakata)

Aboard the International Space Station, there is a device that is purely aesthetic: the Spiral Top, a spinning gadget mounted with LEDs for gorgeous light paintings.

As the name implies, the International Space Station (ISS) is a collaborative endeavour between global space agencies, each of whom work on individual projects as well as team efforts. One of Japanese space agency JAXA's projects is, apparently, art — more specifically, a project by artist Dr Takura Osaka.

Called Spiral Top, it's a spinning gadget with LEDs in its prongs; when pushed through the zero-G atmosphere on board the station, it allows a human photographer to take a beautiful, long-exposure light painting.

During his tenure aboard the ISS in 2009 — and currently — astronaut Koichi Wakata has been taking photos with the Spiral Top. He Tweeted two recent pictures this week showing the device's passage through the station.

And below, the Spiral Top switched off and unmoving:

We're not entirely sure what the purpose of the artwork is, but JAXA is no stranger to interesting and offbeat space projects; last year, the agency sent chat robot Kirobo into space to keep Wakata company on his long stay away from home.


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