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School of Earth and Space Exploration hosts 'Psyche Inspired' art showcase

An inaugural class of students displayed their space-mission inspired works of art


Group photo of artists from the Psyche Inspired Art Show

Psyche Inspired interns at the April 4 art showcase. Back row, from left: Isaac Wisdom, John Domenico, Annie Norenberg, Chris Vasquez, Jeremy Seidner. Front row, from left: Brianna Orrill, Abigail Weibel, Nikka Bacalzo, Kari Sanford, and Caralie Cedarleaf. Photo by Luis Martinez-Mella

April 19, 2018

The Arizona State University-led NASA Psyche Mission is a journey to explore a unique metal world, and it is inspiring scores of artists along the way. 

Earlier this month, a space mission-inspired art showcase was hosted at the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. Titled “Psyche Inspired,” the show featured original art from ASU students who have become an essential part of the Psyche Mission’s outreach goals.  

The student artists represent the inaugural class of “Psyche Inspired" interns, a pilot program developed at ASU to involve students from all disciplines in the Psyche space mission.

The ultimate goal of the outreach program is to share the excitement, innovation, and scientific and engineering content of NASA’s Psyche MissionPsyche, an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the terrestrial planets. The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to launch in August 2022 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low thrust) propulsion, arriving in 2026, following a Mars flyby and gravity-assist in 2023. After arrival, the mission plan calls for 21 months orbiting the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties. The mission is led by Arizona State University. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for mission management and navigation. The spacecraft’s solar-electric propulsion chassis will be built by SSL. through artistic and creative works.

Artwork featured at the show included original compositions performed on piano, sculptures, painting, 3-D models, photography, acrylic art, needlepoint, stop motion films, and mixed media.  

“The whole afternoon was such a thrill — I loved the energy of the students, the engagement of the public, and most of all, the sheer talent and the excellence of the art,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator of the Psyche mission and director of the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Each Psyche Inspired intern was expected to produce one work each month, inspired by an aspect of the space mission. They also had the freedom to collaborate and explore different genres and mediums, as long as it adhered to scientific accuracy.

Caralie Cedarleaf, a Psyche Inspired intern and ASU senior majoring in sculpture, said of her participation in the program, “I've noticed a change in how I relate to projects that are bigger than just one person. Before, I was hesitant to get involved in things, fearful that I didn't have enough to offer. Now, I engage with new opportunities with my assets and skills in mind, not worried about what I'm lacking. I've become bold.”

Throughout the internship, students learned about the Psyche mission by talking to NASA and ASU scientists and staff. The interns met weekly to talk about their projects, ask questions, receive feedback and collaborate.

“I’ve been amazed by the Psyche Inspired interns' curiosity in all arenas — from the science and engineering of the mission to the artistic techniques and genres they have explored,” says Psyche Mission co-investigator Cassie Bowman. “They have really pushed themselves to learn and develop.”

Students who completed the internship participated in the April showcase, which was open to the public. Interns talked about their experiences and creations, and a few even worked on projects to demonstrate their processes.

“People had multiple kinds of interactions with the pieces,” said Psyche Inspired intern and engineering management senior Kari Sanford, who wrote space-themed poetry during the showcase. “Everyone was challenged to find their own connection to the mission.”

In addition to being featured at the show, the original works are displayed throughout the year on social media, in an exhibit in ASU’s Noble Library, and featured on the Psyche Mission website. A coffee table book containing this year’s creations will be available this summer.

For the fall of 2018, the Psyche Inspired team will open the next round of applications nationally to any undergraduate student in the United States. A link to the application will be available on the Psyche website later this summer.

Someday, the team may even take the program to the international stage, allowing undergraduate students across the globe to be bolder in their own lives and share in the inspiration of scientific exploration.

Written by Brooke Owen, Psyche Inspired student manager

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