Solar Wind Aeroscope

Jonas Hansen and Lasse Scherffig (GE)

The Solar Wind Aeroscope is an artistic instrument dealing with atmospheric conditions that depend on ‘space weather’ a storm of electromagnetic particles from the sun that constantly affects our atmosphere. It uses an Internet connection (in the gallery) or a radio receiver (in the wild) to measure radio signal range. This is accomplished through a global network of amateur HAM-radio stations known as WSPRnet. The signals from this network stem from places all over the world and often travel for thousands of kilometers. This is only possible because space weather causes an ionised layer at the border between earth and space, known as ionosphere. Radio waves may repeatedly bounce off the ionosphere and thus reach places they normally couldn’t reach—depending on how well they are reflected. Because the ionosphere and its reflectivity change with the solar wind, the activity of the WSPRnet echoes space weather conditions.

By looking at radio signals and where they come from, the Solar Wind Aeroscope thus can ‘see’ the current atmospheric conditions caused by the solar wind. To make these measurements accessible to us as well, the Solar Wind Aeroscope translates the solar wind into actual wind—transforming the gallery into a terrestrial weather station for extraterrestrial weather.

About the artist: 

Jonas Hansen is a designer and artist teaching at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. He works with experimental interfaces and games that investigate the borders between the virtual and the real world. Lasse Scherffig is an artist and scientist working on experimental computer science and cybernetics.