Space Telescope Artwork Heads to Winter Olympics
This colorful cosmic view is part of a Spitzer Space Telescope art project 2010 Winter Olympics cultural festival in Vancouver.
Credit: George Legrady

Artwork inspired by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is making an appearance at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Spitzer art project, called "We are Stardust," was created by George Legrady, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The work is? one of more than 40 digital art installations in CODE Live, an 18-day event that features visual art, music, and performances fueled by digital technology and audience involvement. It began on February 4 and continues through February 21.

The project is a two-screen installation that maps the sequence of 36,034 observations made by the space telescope from 2003 to 2008. Spitzer sees infrared light from the cosmos, capturing images of everything from comets in our solar system to galaxies billions of light-years away.

At the same time that it project the telescope's observations, the installation records the thermal presence and movements of visitors to the gallery. Those images are superimposed with data retrieved from the telescope's log that correlates with information such as the observation number, name of the celestial body target, the vertical and horizontal angles of the telescope, the observation date, duration, the name of the chief researcher, and which of the three onboard instruments were used to make the observation.

"The intent of the project is to consider our relationship to both local and deep space, and how we conceptualize and situate ourselves in relation to such spaces," said Legrady, whose work focuses on how data and various forms of information are represented.