Explore Science and Art with the Kepler Art of Discovery Contest

April 28, 2014

Calling all crafty scientists! If you are a space artist, an astronomer, or simply a student interested in astronomy and our fascinating galaxy, NASA’s Kepler Mission wants your help. The Kepler Art of Discovery Contest invites participants to create art that illustrates what the hundreds of newly discovered exoplanets might look like.

NASA’s Kepler Mission has been searching for Earth-size planets that orbit around distant, Sun-like stars—known as “exoplanets”—since the mission launched in 2009. The Kepler Mission alone has discovered over half of all the known exoplanets so far (about 1,000 out of some 1,700), with more discoveries waiting out in the vastness of space. The exact appearances of these exoplanets, however, remain unknown, since the Kepler spacecraft does not take photographs. This is where you come in! Middle school students through adults are invited to submit images of what they imagine these extra-solar worlds look like.

The Lawrence Hall of Science is a Co-Lead institution (along with the SETI Institute) for Education and Public Outreach for the Kepler Mission. The mission has inspired many Hall programs, including an online Exoplanet Transit Hunt game, a do-it-yourself LEGO model of planet star transit, an interactive Planetarium show, an exhibit on discovering planets, and even classroom materials that use NASA’s cutting-edge research to help children learn grade-level-appropriate ideas in astronomy. The Art of Discovery Contest will give participants a chance to show how the Kepler Mission has inspired them artistically, helping to bridge the gap between art and science.

“The Kepler Mission has been phenomenally successful, and it has been a joy to work on,” said Toshi Komatsu, co-principal investigator for Education and Public Outreach for the Kepler Mission, as well as Director of Digital Theaters at the Lawrence Hall of Science. “Kepler and its discoveries get to the heart of some of the most basic questions humans have ever asked: ‘Are we alone? Or are there other Earth-like worlds out there, worlds with life?’ Even just a few years ago, we had no idea. Now, Kepler has told us our galaxy is teeming with planets. And today we are on the cusp of finding a true Earth twin. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is!”

Register online by May 5 and submit your artwork digitally by May 12 for your chance to win. Voting will run May 14–21, with the winner being announced on June 4. The winner will be selected by a combination of the number of popular votes and scores from a distinguished panel of judges. All submitted work will be acknowledged, and the Top 100 will be displayed in the Gallery on the Art of Discovery website, as well as in other news, educational, and NASA-related media.

Good luck!

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