TAPS 2017

The Art of Planetary Science: 10-12 February, 2017. An exhibition of art, created from and inspired by the scientific data that we use to explore our solar system.

The Art of Planetary Science's 2017 lead team (left to right): Theresa Hentz, Tracy Esman, Jamie Molaro, Hannah Tanquary, Sarah Peacock, and James Keane

Wow!! Thank you to all of the artists, speakers, volunteers, and visitors for making our fourth year such an incredible event!! The variety of artwork from our 110 artists this year was truly amazing - and we hope you all enjoyed the new live performance additions as much as we did! As always, we're so touched by the love and support of both our department and the greater Tucson community in allowing us to put on a successful event every year. See you all next year!!

Your TAPS organizers,

Sarah Peacock, Theresa Hentz, Jamie Molaro,

James Keane, Tracy Esman, and Hannah Tanquary


Special Presentation

This year we had feature talks and presentations both at the exhibition itself and in collaboration with the UA Museum of Art and Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. At the opening night of The Art of Planetary Science guests listened to “Hearing the Cosmos: Musical Representations of the Natural Universe” by Spencer Miller and ensemble, followed by a very funny and educational presentation about meteoritics by Geoff Notkin: Action Scientist and Meteorite Hunter. On Saturday, Brack Brown gave a special docent presentation entitled “The Art of Space” at the UAMA, where they also had a pop-up exhibition of space art by Robert McCall. Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium provided several beautiful artworks from their collection for a special exhibit at The Art of Planetary Science and showed a Fulldome animation by space artist Don Davis throughout the weekend.

Congratulations to the 2017 winners!

Best in Show, a cloud against a blue background

Lonely Cloud of Methane Gas, Neptune

archival pigment print

Cassandra Hanks

A fabricated landscape of Neptune based on scientific data constructed through photography. Neptune is composed of hydrogen, helium and methane resulting in a blue color, with gas clouds and beach ball sized methane gas bubbles. A 70s film effect “the cloud tank method” was used by delicately balancing salt and fresh water layers to create a density line to sculpt a cloud by using condensed milk.

People's Choice, people join one behind another, hands to elbows in a curve
People's Choice, man holds a woman in the air



Amy Robertson

Circuit presents the first detection of gravitational waves. Two neutron stars circle in a fiery flamenco, rippling the fabric of space-time. The waves created by their collision travel across the universe and finally encounter Earth, where we have been waiting, with the instrument LIGO, to detect them for the first time, finally proving Einstein’s theory.

Fine Art Category

First Place, Fine Art Category, cubes refract light into a multitude of colors

First Place

RBG Combiner Cubes


Page King

RGB combiner cubes are used in projection systems to combine the red, green and blue components of an image. These same cubes can act as vibrant color splitters for incident light.

Second Place, Fine Art Category, a circular fiber sculpture with many interweaving connections

Second Place


off-loom weaving (via bicycle wheel)

Gloria McMillan

Io is a fiber sculpture inspired by New Horizons images of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io, taken during the spacecraft's Jupiter flyby. Jupiter's fifth moon, Io, is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Plumes of sulfur spew upward as high as 190 miles (300 kilometers) and are represented with raised fiber coils.

Third Place, Fine Art Category, a crystal-like sculpture glows atop a box

Third Place

Seven Sisters

epoxy resin, pigment, fiber optics, meteorite dust

Simon Kregar

The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster containing middle-aged stars. The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint nebulosity around the brightest stars is thought to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium.

Honorable Mention, Kids Choice, Fine Art Category, astronaut on moon walking towards lunar greenhouses

Honorable Mention and Kid's Choice Award

Bountiful Harvest

acrylic on canvas

Earl Billick

This is a portrayal of a near future astronaut on a lunar surface excursion in a biosuit approaching Lunar Greenhouse Modules (LGM). This painting was inspired by the Lunar Hydroponics Experiment (LHE) at the University of Arizona Biosphere 2. It was created mostly on site at the LGM exhibit in the main Control Room at the University of Arizona Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona.

Honorable Mention, Fine Art Category, spheroid tree covered with squares

Honorable Mention

Phytoborg 3

graphite on paper (bright vellum)

Andrew Nelson

Phytoborg 3 is part of a series of drawings that depict astrobiological landscapes. A “Phytoborg” is a vegetative lifeform that fuses machine and living plant-like elements. These machine-plants might be post-technology life or exo-biological forms of life. The spheroid “tree” is organic in appearance, but is covered by square shapes that suggest a machine or non-biological origin.

Data Art Category

First Place, Data Art Category, 3D map of photon interaction

First Place


digital photo

Steve Langford

Quantum physics defeats the statistical premise that cumulative-frequency maps always rises. Local regions of both 0% & 100% occur within a cumulative surface more complicated than statistical teachings assume. Residuals to predicted models map physical aspects dealing both with what is there and with how photons interact while traversing it. These images show details at sub-Ångstrom resolutions.


Second Place, Data Art Category, paper topography of layered Mars deposits

Second Place

Chasma Boreale


Jamie Molaro

This piece was creating using topography data of the north polar layered deposits of Mars from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The deep canyon Chasma Boreale is featured in the bottom left. The layers, formed by seasonal melting and deposition of ice, contain a record of Mars' climate history made visible by the dust trapped within each layer.

Third Place, Data Art Category, astronauts on rocky Triton taking samples

Third Place

Exploring Triton

metal print

Lucy West

Future explorers conduct research on the surface of Triton as nitrogen geysers erupt in the background.

Honorable Mention, Data Art Category, title card for CASSINI, 8 YEARS AROUND SATURN

Honorable Mention

Cassini: 8 Years Around Saturn


Nahum Mendez-Chazarra

The video shows real imagery sequences taken by the Cassini spacecraft during the first 8 years in orbit of Saturn.

Honorable Mention, Data Art Category, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with a blue main engine burn

Honorable Mention

OSIRIS-REx - Deep Space Maneuver 1


Heather Roper

An artist's conception of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during a burn of its main engine. OSIRIS-REx executed its first Deep Space Maneuver on December 28, 2016, putting it on course for an Earth flyby in September 2017. The OSIRIS-REx mission is the first NASA mission to retrieve a pristine sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for further study.

Special Thanks

Tim Swindle (Director of LPL)

Maria Schuchardt and the Space Imagery Center

Joshua Sosa

Tara Bode, Kari Figueroa, Mary Guerreiri, Bertha Orosco, and the LPL administration and support staff

William Plant (Flandrau Planetarium)

Brack Brown

Jill McCleary (UAMA Archivist)

Olivia Miller & Dante Lauretta (TAPS 2017 Judges)

Hamish Hay & Laci Brock

The LPL Graduate Students

Bill Hartmann

Spencer Miller and Ensemble

Geoff Notkin

Thanks to all of our 2017 participants!

Marc Aronson

Lauren Bailey

Leandra Bailey

Karen Banker

Jon Bapst

Donald Barker

Colleen McLaughlin Barlow

Jana Becker

Gretchen Bierbaum

Earl Billick

William Binks

Laci Shea Brock

Ellen Campbell

Guanghao Chen

Amelia Christensen Roco

Patrick Cobb

Lexi Coburn

Anu Condon

Alexandra Constantinou

Ron Cottrell

Michael F Cox

Deb Dedon

Samuel Dietze

Nancy Drigotas

Diane C. Taylor

Kerri Dugan

Spencer Edgerton

David M. Ehlen

Tracy Esman

Michelle Fealk

Talia Fishman

Marilynn Flynn

Bettina Forget

Dave Ginsberg

Xiangyu Guo

Szilard Gyalay

Richard Handy

Cassandra Hanks

William K. Hartmann

Luke Hawley

Hamish Hay

Theresa Hentz

Dolores Hill

Joy Hill

Dinah Jasensky

Elishka Jepson

Pixie Kaminski

Chrysanthe Kapuranis

Laura Kassmann

James Tuttle Keane

Page King

Julie Komenda

Simon Kregar

Emily Lakdawalla

Margaret Landis

Steve Langford

Karen Liptak

Toni Littlejohn

Joshua Lothringer

Michael Mackowski

Adam Makarenko

Monique McCollam

Allison McGraw

Ocean McIntyre

Gloria McMillan

Nahum Méndez-Chazarra

Marie Miller

Julie Mitchell

Jamie Molaro

Martin Mongan

Jim Morris

Lucy Murphy

Gautham Narayan

Andrew Lincoln Nelson

Larry R. Nittler

Rebekah Nordstrom

Jim O'Leary

The Orion

Carlos Rene Pacheco

Sarah Peacock

Thomas Plazibat

Amy Robertson

Aaron Rodriquez

Amanda Rohrbach

Heather Roper

Carson Rose

Michelle Rouch

Eric Sahr

Lester Salberg

Ben Sandoval

Holly Lynn Schineller

James V. Scotti

Rebekah Shindel

Jessie Shinn

Deborah Sigel

Chris Summitt

Ernesto A. Trujillo

Diane C. Taylor

Rhonda Thomas Urdang

John Vermette

Dale Voelker

Carolyn Wayland

Lucy West

Mike Wrathell

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