This activity was originally developed by the ML Learning Initiative’s ongoing PLIX project. It was jointly designed by researchers from MIT and public librarians for family creative learning! Enjoy!
In this activity, you will put your rapid-prototype cubesat design to the test! Here, we will show you how to design three different payloads that can create art in zero gravity!
Space art requires no ‘technology’ to collect data. This payload is inspired by the work of a MIT Media Lab researcher, who created charcoal art on paper during a rocket launch!
To make space art, you can put any marking tool (oil pastels, paint, etc.) along with blank paper into your model satellite, toss it around in different patterns, and notice what marks are created while the payload is in the air.
If you’d like, download the instructional poster here:
Here are some examples created by team members of the Space Exploration Initiative:
If you have a few tech. tools at home (including a micro:bit, a raspberry pi, or a camera), you can also use these a payload for your model satellite! Read about those below:
Your satellite can also be used to make digital art, or physical computing interfaces! We experimented with micro:bit as the satellite payload, and used Scratch to collect and visualize the data. There are a few ways the micro:bit can send data to Scratch (get started here). We got creative with ours by having Scratch draw out a path of an astronaut using the micro:bit’s tilt (there is a gyroscope inside the micro:bit!) data:
Scratch code for the project here: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/320744821/
This is something we’d like to keep playing with, so let us know if you use micro:bit and Scratch (and share your code too) in the comments below. Feel free to remix the existing code, or create new ones!
The third art activity is to turn your cubesat into a camera! For this component, we used Public Lab’s Infragram Pi-camera as a payload. All the information you will need is on their website: https://publiclab.org/wiki/raspberry-pi-infragram. Your images do not need to be taken from the air, though: as an easy at-home alternative, use your phone as the satellite camera and take images of your home or neighborhood!
We’re curious to play with more payloads, whether it be different sensors (e.g. air quality), or different boards (e.g., Arduino). Please share with us if you try something else! Report out in the Full STEAM Ahead forum.
“Learn one, do one, teach one” - share what you just learned or created with a member of your family!