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These student art projects will be out of this world

OK Go with winners
Members of the OK Go performance-art band (at left) give the good word to one of the winning teams (shown on the screen at right) in the Art in Space contest. (OK Go via YouTube)

Three students are getting ready for a space experiment that will use gravity and magnetism to simulate the origin of planet Earth. Another trio plans to create a musical composition that’s based on blips of cosmic radiation.

We’re not talking about strictly scientific experiments here: These are the winning entries in an art contest set up by the performance-art rock band OK Go to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship.

The Art in Space contest follows up on OK Go’s viral “Upside Down & Inside Out” video, which splashed paint all over the interior of an airplane during a zero-gravity parabolic airplane flight.

OK Go Sandbox, the nonprofit venture established by the group in league with the University of St. Thomas’ Playful Learning Lab, struck a deal with Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture to let kids do something similarly creative during the weightless phase of New Shepard’s flight.

Unlike OK Go, the winners of the contest won’t be floating in zero-G. The experiments are designed to do their thing autonomously, under controlled conditions, without splattering stuff on New Shepard’s nice new upholstery.

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OK Go and Blue Origin team up on art contest

OK Go in zero-G
OK Go’s zero-gravity art contest follows up on a music video that the group performed during a zero-gravity airplane flight. (OK Go Photo)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is joining forces with the music-video masters at OK Go to give students a chance to send art experiments into outer space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship.

The “Art in Space” contest follows up on OK Go’s viral “Upside Down & Inside Out” video, which splashed paint all over the interior of an airplane during a zero-gravity parabolic airplane flight.

“Now we want you to try, but in actual space!” the music group says in today’s contest announcement.

Winners won’t be able to get quite as wild and crazy as OK Go did: Their experiments will have to be confined inside a 4-by-4-by-8-inch box that would be packed aboard an upcoming New Shepard test flight in West Texas. They can weigh no more than 1.1 pounds, and explosives are frowned upon.

Despite the limitations, teams will have wide leeway to design a payload that produces art in microgravity.

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