There Are Worlds to Explore Crystal Series
Voyage Crystal Series 1
The Voyage exhibition on the National Mall, and in communities across the U.S., portrays the Solar System from the Sun to the dwarf planet Pluto at one 10-billionth actual size. The Sun, eight planets, Pluto, and 15 moons are located on appropriately spaced stanchions along a 2,000-foot (600 m) pathway.
The task seemed pretty straightforward - construct a model
Solar System along a path that would be a comfortable walk. But the Solar System doesn't make it easy. It's comprised of small objects in a vast
space. Even the Sun is dwarfed by the space. You would need
over 4,200 Suns side-by-side to span the distance between
the Sun and Pluto.
The smallest objects we wanted to depict were moons of at
least 1,000 km diameter, like Tethys, Dione, Ariel, and Umbriel.
The largest size to be depicted was Pluto’s average
distance from the Sun, corresponding to 3.7 billion miles (6 billion km). Could we shrink the Solar System down to a comfortable walk yet still be able to see the smallest planets let alone the smallest moons? A
scale of one to 10-billion works perfectly. At this scale everything is reduced in size
by a factor of 10 billion. The model Sun is 5.5 inches (13.9 cm) across, about the size of a very large grapefruit. The model Jupiter and its rings is 1 inch (2.6 cm) across, large enough to see storms on the planet's cloud tops and the delicate structure of its rings. A model of a 1,000 km diameter
moon is 0.1 mm across and still visible to the human eye. Finally, the nearly 4 billion mile (6 billion km) Sun-Pluto distance scales to 2,000 feet (600 m), or a comfortable 10-minute walk.
Great! But how do you create these worlds in 3D with an accuracy allowing you to see storms and cloud bands on the giant planets, and ring systems that nearly disappear when viewed edge-on? A year-long exploration of model building techniques led us to laser-sculpting inside solid crystal - an approach whose elegance was worthy of sculpture that required approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and that could create highly accurate 3D structures pixel by microscopic pixel. We were honored to work with Seaena, the crystal fabricator on this project.
The There Are Worlds to Explore Crystal Series below reproduces the Voyage Sun, planets, dwarf planets, and moons as they are depicted in this remarkable exhibition, and are produced by Seaena, the fabricator for the exhibition's crystal.