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Innovative solution to modern art found: Shoot it into space

Meteorite-riddled Earthlings to finally return fire at the universe

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The European Space Agency says it is seriously considering a plan which involves firing a piece of modern art made from a melted-down meteorite back into space.

The piece of modern art in question is titled "Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky". It is to be exhibited this summer at the Turner Contemporary gallery in the Kent seaside town of Margate, famed as a destination for those of advanced artistic tastes. The exhibit was produced by taking a meteorite, making a mould of its shape, then melting the multibillion-year-old space rock down and pouring it into the mould to create a replica of itself, made of itself.

“The iron, metal and dust inside have been reformed, and the layers of its cosmic lifespan – the intermixing of space and time, the billions of years of pressure and change – have become collapsed, transformed and then, by the hand of human technology, renewed,” explains artist Katie Paterson, the brains behind this idea.

Paterson has a lot of previous form in this area, having previously produced various other items along similar lines: for instance recording the sounds of an Icelandic volcano under the surface of a meltwater lake on discs made of refrozen ice from the same source, or her ongoing collection of completely black slides made by photographing dark bits of sky.

Once Campo del Cielo has had its run in front of an amazed public in Margate, Paterson plans to have it - or part of it - shot into space courtesy of the ESA. The space agency says it is seriously considering sending some or all of the melted meteorite lump up on on the next Automated Transfer Vehicle supply podule, Georges Lemaître, due to head up to the International Space Station in 2014.

According to a recent ESA statement:

A small sample of the meteorite will be carefully assessed for flight qualification, and if it passes, can be delivered ‘back to space’ to the Station.

“I hope this helps inspire people everywhere to think about the really big questions: the origin of life, the natural history of our Solar System and home planet, and our relationship with time, both geological and cosmic,” says Dr Detlef Koschny, a top ESA asteroid boffin, in accompanying tinned quotes.

“These are important questions, and space exploration together with art are helping us answer them.”

It's perhaps worth noting that merely transporting the art to the ISS will not really be a case of shooting it back into space permanently as it will remain in low Earth orbit. Left to itself would fall back into the atmosphere again relatively soon (as would the ISS itself, without regular shoves back up to speed from attached ATVs and other spacecraft). Unless the astro-lump should get an onward boost somehow, it will come back to Earth one way or another - either as part of a routine garbage dump aboard an ATV or Progress robo-podule jettisoned into the atmosphere, with the descending ISS itself whenever the world's governments tire of paying for it, or (just possibly) intact, aboard a returning manned 'naut podule such as a Soyuz or future SpaceX Dragon.

A vid from Paterson explaining the process leading to the astro-blob art is below. ®

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