SOLAR (SYSTEM) We learn about our Solar System at an early age. We’re taught that Jupiter is large, that Saturn has rings and that Mars is Red. They are portrayed to us as indistinct circles, aligned evenly throughout our celestial neighborhood and all warmed by the Sun, positioned at the center of it all. Beyond these rudimentary facts and perceptions, however, we tend to explore little more. Often we fail to appreciate that our planetary neighbors play a large part in the existence of us. Earth as we know it is protected from threats warded off by gas giants whom ensnare asteroids with their gravitational pull. In a time of great chaos, during the formation of our Solar System the very impacts we hope to avoid today may have seeded life on Earth. Organic matter traversing space; projected into the cosmos by way of an adjacent planets upheaval. We reside in a vacuum of space and time that few understand enough to convey. It’s our inheritance as a species, a collective mystery of how and why we exist where we do. Whether this awareness compels us to seek answers through science or religion we are all forced to contemplate our place in the universe. My thesis is about the planets of our Solar System. Often we’re captivated by images of star fields spanning the universe, or swirling galaxies, yet our Planets seem passé. As technology advances we are able to see further into the Universe and our awe of it’s complexity overshadows what is at our doorstep. Today, it’s not uncommon to see news of discovered exoplanets or “sister earths”. Our hunt for familiarity throughout the cosmos is human, we don’t want to feel anomalous or alone. There is a linear path in our capability to observe space and discern it accurately. The first telescopes, albeit crude and blurred, offered unprecedented views of our closest counterparts. Sketches noting characteristics our Moon’s geography and of nearby planets provided the public with
the first detailed images of the worlds beyond Earth. As the understanding of optics improved so did our comprehension of the universe’s makeup. Claims of observed structures made by an intelligent species covering vast amounts of a planetary surface ignited speculation of habitable worlds nearby. We tend to see what we want and early astronomers, and academics were no exception. As science advanced observation and research methodologies improved and our definition of life expanded. The aim of my thesis is to describe the Planets in an unique way. As a designer my inclination is to create order from chaos and visually convey ideas. When the subject matter is the Planets the idea of “order” and “chaos” become blurred. Perceived chaos via fundamental order, and conversely perceived order via fundamental chaos. Micro and macro focus alter our notion of Space. Planets silently, ceaselessly orbiting in the black of space, whilst unimaginable weather rages within them and we can see said examples. However, gravity, time and expansion; forces causing the behavior of our Solar System go unseen without the aid of specialized equipment. Yet we physically feel their effects, it is simply easier to accept what we can see. The outcome of my thesis varied throughout the year, but my intentions did not. I planned to create a design system, derived from the math of each planet’s characteristics. For a large amount of time my final asset was to be a book. It was not meant to educate the reader about the Solar System, in fact the content could be anything at all. The focus was its framework and the context in which it was built. Similarly to my prior example of a Micro and Macro observations of Space, it’s content, was to be intelligible and engaging. It’s framework, effecting the position and flow content, but much like gravity, unseen. Quickly, scaling such enormous objects and the distance
between them became difficult. In preliminary layout designs I attempted to map the first twenty-three of Jupiter’s sixty-seven moons, by distance, from the planet’s center. At a set scale that would allow for even a pinpoint sized graphic of each moon to show it would have taken 170, 18 x 24 inch spreads to map linearly. A new approach was needed and additional factors considered. It’s easy to misjudge the vastness of the solar system, in fact, its improbably not to. The sheer magnitude of scale and distance is daunting. My focus needed to broaden and away from size and distance and explored other attributes. Time, atmospheric composition, ring systems, position, moons, axial tilt, temperature range, radiation levels, magnetic fields, core size, core composition and distance from the sun were all tested. All can be expressed mathematically, it was a matter of finding a way to visualize them.