Leicester researcher contributes to space arts odyssey

ESA and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (pictured), with the BBK Foundation, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Spanish arts centre with a performance of Chasmata, a journey to Mars through contemporary art, music and architecture. Monday’s concert can be seen online starting at 18:30 GMT (20:30 CEST).

At the heart of the performance are the results and images from ESA’s Mars Express, which has been orbiting the planet since 2003.

The concert also involves ESA astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Pedro Duque.

Projections of Mars have been provided by ESA, the Andalusian Institute of Astronomy in Spain, and the UK’s Imperial College and University of Leicester.

Dr. Beatriz Sanchez–Cano, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Radio and Space Plasma Physics group, said: “The event is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), and in which art and science are combined. In particular, Mars Express data have been “musicalised” and will be played in a concert together with  videos and images of Mars.  The University of Leicester, through myself, has been involved in the data processing for that project.”

Dr Sanchez–Cano's 'sonification' of the Mars Express-MARSIS data featured in the Juventae Chasma song, played by a solo saxo and processed sounds, accompanied by an ESA video.

Dr Sanchez–Cano said:"The MARSIS instrument is a radar on board Mars Express designed to sound the ionosphere of Mars (the ionized part of the upper atmosphere). In simpler words, it makes a kind of picture of the upper atmosphere of Mars and give us information of its shape, structure, variability, etc.

"I’m very excited because our daily work at Leicester - analysing how the atmosphere of Mars behaves - is also useful beyond science, such as for creating a piece of art which will be exposed in one of the most important museums of the world. At the same time, it will bring actual Mars science to people in a way simple way which, otherwise, is sometimes very hard to explain to the general public."