Will aliens see you say hello? – (World) Space Meanderings (n°40)
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
The Vitae Project mixes altogether art, science and dreams. French artist Alinore Banon will soon launch a lunar sculpture with the help of prominent astrophysicists, space engineers, high tech geeks as well as mere human beings like you and me who are invited to join in. One million people from all over the world will have their handprint on the sculpture and leave an everlasting memory on the moon.
Like prehistoric men left their handprints on the walls of caves such as Lascaux or Chauvet, we can today deliver a similar message to future generations and, who knows, to aliens from outer space. The lunar sculpture looks like a flower that will open and close every day according to the moon temperature that sizeably changes during a lunar day. Using high tech shape memory materials reacting to these temperature amplitudes (from -340°F to + 250°F) the flower-sculpture will open at night and shine from the near side of the moon. On clear nights the light signal will be visible from earth with an amateur telescope.
Building such a work of art was a true challenge. Alinore Banon who is known worldwide for her monumental installations that she creates in her Parisian workshop, imagined this “living” sculpture representing humankind. From the beginning she knew that it was meant to be on the moon. Why choose a museum when you can have the moon? But of course beyond the artistic process she needed help from scientists. She got it from Jean Audouze, distinguished astrophysicist working at the National Centre for Scientific Research (most top-notch French researchers work there) and from Dassault Systemes, the “3D Experience Company”.
This project initiated by Alinore Banon four years ago has just taken a step further. A small test sculpture is onboard a Spacex rocket that is going to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) this month. It was supposed to leave earth on 18 February, but the rocket launch was stopped at the last minute due to a technical issue. Nevertheless the rocket built by Elon Musk space firm Spacex achieved a successful take off from Kennedy Space Center in Cap Canaveral on the very next day and was able to deliver its precious cargo to the ISS where astronauts will put the small-scale Vitae to the test. Aboard the ISS in Low Earth Orbit the test will demonstrate among other things, the performance of one the proposed materials, the “shape memory alloy” in microgravity. This alloy is the “living” material that will allow the skeleton of the sculpture to open and close.
Of course you are welcome to join the project. Go on the dedicated website and follow the four steps that will allow you to leave your own handprint on the moon. Doing it you will also help finance this artistic odyssey. After entering your email address you will immediately get a link to participate to the Vitae Project where you will choose your participation. For a 15€ (13£) contribution you will receive your personal e-certificate signed by the artist. For 30€ (26£) you will receive the same e-certificate plus your e-print limited edition signed by the artist. And finally for a 550 € (470£) contribution you will also received an autographed Monographie painted on Moon Mylar framed in transparent acrylic. Then take a picture of you open hand, fill in the form and send your handprint. It will be registered and you will receive your certificate.
Learn everything about Vitae Project: http://vitaeproject.com/
Sign in: https://myhand.vitaeproject.com/
See you soon on the moon!
Text © Annick Dournes
Photos: Courtesy of Vitae Project or © Frederic de Poligny