A funky LED pavilion is bringing people closer to NASA’s out-of-this-world accomplishments. The World Science Festival, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and ESA asked architecture firm STUDIOKCA to create an installation that celebrated the Rosetta Mission, the first mission in history to successfully rendezvous with a comet. STUDIOKCA principals Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang accepted the challenge and installed a 1:1000 scale concept of the comet’s nucleus and ion tail—made from steel plates, mist, and 600 watts of LEDs—at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park last year. Now the comet is part of a traveling exhibition that could be landing in your town.
The comet pavilion is large—the piece measures 9 feet by 12 feet by 8 feet—but its size is just a tiny fraction of the real comet, named 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which is as large as Central Park and located nearly 400 million miles away from Earth. The groundbreaking Rosetta Mission was launched in 2004 to follow, orbit, and set a robotic space probe—the size of a dishwasher—onto the enormous comet. The spacecraft successfully arrived at the comet on August 6, 2014.
Following the visual strategy provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, STUDIOKCA recreated the comet’s nucleus from 67 folded steel plates that were blackened and indented with a water jet cutter, hammers, and torches. Half of the pavilion sits within a reflecting pool in reference to the belief that Earth’s original water source came from ice comets that collided with our planet millenniums ago. LEDs embedded inside the artwork make the pavilion appear to glow from within. The comet’s ion tail is symbolized by nearly 100 feet of copper tubes and misters.
“The light and mist, reflected in the water and pouring out of the steel surface, create what [we] imagine the nucleus might look like as it heats up,” writes STUDIOKCA. The comet pavilion was first installed at Brooklyn Bridge Park and is now part of a traveling exhibition. The comet’s next landing is tentatively scheduled for Moscow’s Polytech Festival in December.
Photographs provided by StudioKCA, were taken by David Delgado (NASA/JPL), Dan Goods (NASA/JPL), Lesley Chang (Studiokca), Justin Steel, and Edward Button