(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.
軌道上芸術活動の一環として、逢坂卓郎氏が考案したSpiral Topを使った実験を行いました。宇宙は新たな芸術も創造する空間、無重量環境の可能性は無限大です。 pic.twitter.com/O5kxdk40hP— Koichi Wakata (@Astro_Wakata) January 6, 2014
And below, the Spiral Top switched off and unmoving:
This "Spiral Top" with LEDs makes an amazing art in zero-gravity. See photos of my next two tweets. pic.twitter.com/EvU25l3Il8— Koichi Wakata (@Astro_Wakata) January 6, 2014
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.