Read out

The Green River flows through the western United States and forms a small script on its way through the country. (Photo: NASA, idea: Adam Voiland, design: Jesse Allen & Paul Przyborski)

Der Green River fließt durch den Westen der USA und formt auf seinem Weg durch das Land ein kleines Schreibschrift a. (Foto: NASA; Idee: Adam Voiland; Gestaltung: Jesse Allen & Paul Przyborski)

The Green River flows through the western United States and forms a small script on its way through the country. (Photo: NASA, idea: Adam Voiland, design: Jesse Allen & Paul Przyborski)

Water ice on Pluto, news about black holes or polar lights on Jupiter - these are the messages that are usually coming from NASA. On the other hand, the project of NASA employee Adam Voiland appears somewhat unconventional. He had the idea to capture all letters of the Latin alphabet with satellite imagery of the earth.

It all began in 2012 when Voiland worked on a story about forest fires. When he looked at a satellite image of the fires over Canada, he discovered the letter V, which was formed by the clouds of smoke. The idea of ​​finding the complete alphabet in such pictures did not take long to come.

Voiland went in search of letters. He was assisted by colleagues and followers of NASA. It took just over three years until the last of the 26 letters was finally located. The M was the longest in coming. But it was still found.

Exclusively for the image of science, Adam Voiland answered interesting questions about the project.

Mr. Voiland, which of the many pictures has become your favorite picture in the end? display

I love the D. It shows Akimiski Island in Canada. The shape is perfect and the shoals are spectacular. For me it is impossible to look at the picture and not at the same time being impressed that we live on such an unimaginably dynamic and beautiful planet. The earth has its own rhythms and cycles that can be completely independent of people.

How much time did you invest in the project?

It took a few years to find the whole alphabet. But it only took that long because I did not focus on it. Part of my job at NASA is to get all kinds of news about new research. The idea behind this project was that I would inevitably stumble over the letters in my work. That worked well too. Only at the end, when only a few letters were missing, did I actively search.

The first letter you found was a V seen in the clouds of smoke over Canada. However, this picture appears as a Z in the gallery. Why did you change your view?

When you start thinking about the shapes of the letters, you quickly realize that many of them are interchangeable when you turn them. M, W and E are very similar. It's the same with N and Z. So it happened that I experimented a bit with the pictures in the final version. This complicated it. Because the possibilities that resulted from the different perspectives and possible spellings of the letters were enormous. At the V I had another picture that I just thought would make a better V. I still love the original V of the clouds of smoke and think it's doing very well as Z. I also got some feedback from followers who said, "Hey, that does not look like a V. It looks like a 2nd "

Have you already planned a new project? For example, numbers from outer space?

I was contacted by a few publishers interested in marketing the project as a children's book. Since the project was created in the context of my work, I have decided to repeat it again in my spare time. With new pictures and other texts. That's how the book was made: The Alphabet from Space.

The conversation was conducted by Meike Seibert.

Science.de - Meike Seibert
Recommended Editor'S Choice