The Weight of Information: Ground Station

Antennae, Satellite Tracking Robot, Scientific Balance, Monitors, Laptops, Free Software, Paper, Ash, 41º 18’ 6.35” S, 174º 46’ 26.51” E, 06.11.15 — 22.11.15

The Weight of Information: Ground Station

The Weight of Information: Ground Station is an installation that documents the April 2014 launch and orbit of the TWOI satellite. The installation consists of several parts. There is a scientific balance holding a version of the TWOI satellite at the entrance to the space. Within the gallery a robot satellite antenna rotator mounted on a tripod tracks the historical track of the TWOI satellite when the satellite was in orbit in April 2014. 3 monitors are arranged around the rotator on low plinths. The first shows the launch and separation videos from the successful CRS-3 launch that took TWOI into orbit. The second shows the simulated reatime satellite track of the Kicksat deployer and ISS as well as coverage, azimuth and elevation of satellite sightings. The third shows the blank output of the software defined radio decoder tuned to the frequency of the satellite and displaying a flat line graph of zero signal. Around the exhibition ephemera from the Earth based Meet to Delete events are displayed on the walls: a list of meta data of information deleted during the events, some samples of ash and shredded paper and a poster of the end of life web post of the project.

Exhibition details

41º 18’ 6.35” S, 174º 46’ 26.51” E

Julian Priest and Fourth World in Stereo

Opening

Friday 6 November
5.00 pm

Exhibition

9–22 November 2015

The Engine Room

East End Block 1,
Massey University
63 Wallace Street, Entrance C

The Engine Room

The Weight of Information: Ground Station statement

On April 18th 2014 The Weight of Information pico-satellite TWOi was launched into Low Earth Orbit. TWOi was one of a collection of over a hundred pico-satellites inside the Kicksat deployer satellite which was itself a secondary payload on the Space-X mission CRS-3 to re-supply the International Space Station [ISS].

TWOi was designed to be ejected from the deployer after a 16 day separation orbit had got it clear of the ISS. It was then to begin a 2 week autonomous downward spiralling orbit before burning up on re-entry.

TWOi exists in a universe where gravitation is caused by information, and it wanted to climb to a higher orbit by deleting information, to ascend by forgetting.

During the orbital period TWOi was programmed to collect information from its sensors and immediately delete it, transmitting regular messages to Earth containing meta-data about how much information it had deleted.

The faint radio signals were to be picked up by a network of robot satellite tracking ground stations operated by radio hams, and the signals decoded using software and published on the Internet.

On Earth, Meet to Delete events were staged in Wellington, Whanganui, Brussels, Helsinki, Bogotá, and Prescott Arizona where people came together to share the deletion of personal information, to lighten the Earth in solidarity with TWOi as it orbited overhead

After a successful launch the Kicksat Deployer entered its separation orbit and began to move away from the ISS. 14 days later, and two days before TWOi deployment, a cosmic ray event over the South Atlantic anomaly caused a malfunction which knocked out the flight computer and zeroed the release timer setting deployment for 16 days hence.

With the satellite on a pre-determined re-entry trajectory with an estimated 14 days of flight time still to run, the race was on to see if TWOi would achieve autonomous flight before it burned up.