Earthlings—Space Exploration Initiative open call for artworks in low Earth orbit

Chesley Bonestell 

The MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative is pleased to announce an open call, Earthlings, to invite artists for a unique opportunity to bring their work to low Earth orbit. This opportunity is intended for artists, designers, and storytellers who provoke new imaginings of our shared planetary future and challenge the ways we engage with outer space. Selected projects will be announced in October 2019 and aim to be launched in early 2020.

Through the ages, artists, writers, and filmmakers have always been inspired by space. Artists’ visionary depictions of space as an environment for people have influenced the scientific and engineering feats we know so well today. How will artists continue to inspire the future of space exploration? What are the opportunities and challenges in the creation of art for space, and art depicting space and space technologies? In Earthlings, we urge artists to take the unique low Earth orbit environment to create projects that live beyond outer space but also inspire our life on Earth.

Earthlings (a 1.5U size unit, 100mm x 100mm x 152.4mm) will be launched into low Earth orbit for about 30 days. It features a three-layer telescoping structure which creates three different “gravities:” zero gravity, lunar gravity, and Martian gravity. Each layer of the structure rotates independently. The top layer remains still in weightlessness, while the middle and bottom layers spin at different speeds to produce centripetal accelerations that mimic lunar gravity and Martian gravity, respectively. Each layer carries 4-6 pockets that can hold projects. All the proposed projects must be contained within this dimension and stay passive during the entire mission. Artists can request up to four pockets in total in any of the three layers. Further technical details and request for proposals can be found below.

Thanks to all the artists who submitted their proposals. We have informed the selected artists for the full proposal request and will announce the final awardees soon.


We successfully launched Sojourner 2020 in March 2020 with nine artist groups. You can find more information about the projects here.

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