Spaceship Earth


photo: fields in desert, Tubarjal / Satellite: Sentinel-2, Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)

“You do not belong to you. You belong to the universe.”
Buckminster Fuller, 1895-1983

Like a spaceship, Earth travels on its course through the universe. We’re the passengers. Unfortunately, we haven’t been provided with an operating manual for Spaceship Earth and the provisions aboard our craft are finite. The population is growing, per capita energy consumption is on the rise, and the resources are getting scarcer.

Another point about Spaceship Earth is: Nobody can disembark! We have to continue on our journey through space together and attempt to better understand System Earth.

Satellites help us to analyze complex global interrelationships: the development of the weather, the ongoing measurement of expanding cities, surveillance of the oceans’ surface, the detection of forest fires. Thanks to satellite technology, we can obtain the precise data that we need to protect our environment. After all, this is the only Earth we’ve got.

This exhibition showcases satellite images and the astounding depth of information inherent in these impressive pictures. What do we learn from the observation of Earth from high above our planet, and how are we to react to what we find out? “Spaceship Earth,” an exhibition produced jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Ars Electronica, focuses on this issue.


The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. More about the ESA:

Cooperation Partners

Co-produced by ESA and Ars Electronica
Further cooperation partners: Catalysts, EODC, ZAMG, TU WIEN, German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Further Links

The exhibition intends to promote the Earth Observation Program “Copernicus” initiated by the European Union (EU), the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organization for Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and their member states. All collected data of the Sentinel satellites are available for free download. Here you will find an overview and further links to the topic: Spaceship Earth Links

Ars Electronica Blog

Get some impressions of the exhibition opening: Ars Electronica Blog.



Interactive Panels

Have you ever seen the Gaza Strip, the Sahara or Siberia’s Lena River from a satellite? The panels of the exhibition allow a differentiated view of our earth.

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Floor Projection

The floor projections in the Spaceship Earth exhibition are four animations: the nitrogen dioxide content of the atmosphere, global population density, the height of oceanic waves, and the Earth’s topography.

Read More Floor Projection

Topographical Model

This 3-D model serves as a projection surface for various videos having to do with Earth observation, air quality and ground cover.

Read More Topographical Model

Satellite Image Scene

A satellite image scene is a defined portion of the footage continuously recorded by a satellite image scanner (optoelectronic scanning system).

Read More Satellite Image Scene


Mounted on the ceiling of the exhibition space are rails symbolizing the orbits of the planets in our solar system.

Read More Orbits

Movable Screens

The sliding system makes it possible to move each of the six projection surfaces on the subjects of water, ice, vegetation, cities, desert and atmosphere.

Read More Movable Screens