Enter the Sun Without Burning Alive in NASA Installation

It's like being in the movie 'Sunshine,' but without the murdery parts.

by Becky Chung
Feb 5 2015, 12:00am

Images courtesy the artist

Inside the Solarium, a video installation by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), you can enter the belly of the sun without worrying about frying to a crisp. In fact, the dynamic visuals of the giant star’s turbulent gas atmosphere exploding and erupting on the walls of the Goddard Space Flight Center's Visitor Center are surprisingly serene.

Since Feb 11, 2010, SDO has been watching the sun, taking one picture a second, and collecting data to trace how materials enter into the layers of the corona, the massive aura that surrounds the sun. Paired with audio crafted from 40 days of data from the now-defunct Michelson Doppler Imager, the creators adjusted SDO’s vast collection of solar images to “elicit a calming, soothing and mesmerizing experience,” with each minute of footage taking around 10 hours to complete. 

From records of images as binary code, through computer translations of the data into black-and-white pictures, a coloring process that highlights different wavelengths of ultraviolet light, and finally motion graphics and video softwares, bringing the Sun to the Earth was no easy feat—but Solarium was well the effort.

Click here to learn more about NASA's Solarium installation. 


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