• 03.03.17

The European Space Agency Commissioned A Music Video For Its Next Launch

The video, set to an otherworldly soundtrack of space sounds, will play just before the launch of the Sentinel 2B satellite next week.

The European Space Agency Commissioned A Music Video For Its Next Launch

For most of us, the sounds and photos recorded by space probes are the closest we’ll get to experiencing the vast visual and auditory landscapes of outer space. Fortunately, agencies like NASA and the European Space Agency digitally archive the extraterrestrial assets they’ve gathered and make them available for anyone to experience. On the ESA website, for instance, you can find a surreal celestial photo of supernova remnants or a painterly image depicting a magnetic field across the galactic plane. On the agency’s Soundcloud you can hear the dolphin-like clicks of Comet 67P, colloquially known as the “singing comet.”


In a new project that goes online today, three researchers at the Treviso, Italy-based experimental design center Fabrica have sourced a portion of those images for a short video that visualizes space–accompanied by a soundtrack created from the sounds of the ESA’s Rosetta space probe. Musician Francesco Novara made the song with audio clips from the ESA’s SoundCloud, including that of the “singing comet,” which was picked up by Rosetta. Director Laura Sans and creative director Kenzi Benabdallah layered images from space with images of everyday objects, connecting the distant realm of outer space to the more familiar sights of Earth.

The team was invited to create the work by the ESA as part of a partnership between the agency and Fabrica that began in 2015, after the agency discovered earlier compositions Novara had made from their collection of sound clips. On Tuesday, the team will play their video, entitled Stella, at an event for the Earth observation satellite Sentinel 2B, just before the satellite launches into space from the ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.

To compose the electronic track that scores the film, Novara layered the clips of cosmic sounds and interspersed samples of astronauts conversing. After finishing the song, he handed it over to Sans and Benabdallah, who dug into the ESA’s online image library to find images that would match and compliment the sounds for the music video. “The sound is very abstract, and the theme and topic of space feels very far away from us,” Benabdallah tells Co.Design. “We wanted to bring it back to our environment and to explore the concept of outer space and inner space.”

In a shot near the beginning of the video, for example, Benabdallah and Sans film a closeup shot of an egg, which is then seamlessly layered with an ESA image of the moon. In another shot, an image of a human eye becomes a photo of the sea taken from space, and a closeup of hair bleeds into an aerial image of the Sahara Desert. All of the locations are displayed beside the ESA images as the video morphs from quotidian objects on Earth to spectacular images of Earth, shot from space. The pair describe their video, put to Novara’s space music, as a visual metaphor: Space may feel far away, says Sans, but ultimately, “we are a part of the universe, so everything [in the video] looks the same.”

See the full video above or here.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.