Daan Roosegaarde’s Laser Light Installation Tracks Outer Space Waste In Real-Time

As a society, we’re more aware of our impact on the environment than ever before. Unfortunately, we’ve been extremely abusive to our air, bodies of water and landmasses. Now, our pollution is causing the natural infrastructure of our planet to diminish rapidly right in front of our eyes. At one point in time, nobody thought that there would be consequences for our actions but climate change has proven to be inevitable due to our recklessness. But what many don’t know is that we’re not only polluting our planet but our solar system as well. And now, Dutch designer, Daan Roosegaarde, is bringing awareness to outer space debris and wreckage with his new laser light installation known as the Space Waste Lab.

The Space Waste Lab exhibit is located in Roosegaarde’s hometown of Almere, Netherlands. The display features a multitude of green laser lights that are projected into the sky and have the ability to reach distances of 125,000 to 136,000 miles. The neon green arrows can locate space debris utilizing real-time data provided by European Space Agency [ESA] tracking services. At this current moment, there are approximately 29,000 pieces of space waste in our atmosphere. This wreckage can potentially damage the International Space Station or orbiting satellites. The debris also pose a threat to the environment as the debris have the opportunity to reenter the earth’s atmosphere. And now, designer Roosegaarde is not only bringing awareness to the issue, but he’s also bringing solutions to the table.

ESA engineer, Michel van Pelt, who oversaw the project had this to say while speaking with Deezen,

“Very large and solid objects, like rocket parts, can also hit the ground after re-entering the atmosphere. On any given moment, ten large pieces of space debris the size of satellites or a rocket stage are floating right above your head. Daan Roosegaarde wants to give these objects a face with his Space Waste Lab.”

Photos By Deezen

The Daan Roosegaarde x ESA x Space Waste Lab

What originally was an art installation has turned into a full-blown educational experience at the Space Waste Lab. The indoor installation in Almere features real space waste recovered by the ESA and allows attendees to present their own ideas of what should be done with the outer space ruins. The laser light installation also known as a ‘call to action’ is just the first phase to a larger plan for the designer.

Now, with the general public aware of potentially harmful space waste, Roosegaarde and van Pelt want to repurpose the waste for practical usage. An idea the design team has come up with include controlling and colliding the objects to manifest usable energy. Another idea includes using the waste for artificial falling stars for fireworks displays.

Roosegaarde Speaks Out

While speaking with Deezen, Roosegaarde spoke about his laser light installation stating the following,

“The light installation is really impressive. It moves really slowly, but this makes it very dramatic. It’s really great to take something very abstract and problematic, and turn it into something visual and very shareable.”

Roosegaarde also described his display as an ‘alien beauty’ and added,

“The installation is really mesmerizing. It’s so beautiful to have something so abstract – 8.1 million kilos of space junk surrounding earth right now – and be able to visualise it right above your head.”

Lastly, Roosegaarde spoke out about space pollution stating,

“We have 8.1 million kilograms of space junk in space at the moment. So, why don’t we see it as a lego block to build something new? Why do we just throw it away? That’s the conversation we need to have.”


This is just one example of art taking on the humanized element of responsibility. What was once confused as UFO sightings in the Netherlands is now bringing awareness to the people. We should take responsibility for our waste in all factors of our being. Even in regards to outer space. We have a lot of work to do here and utilizing design and art could largely benefit society to reach the common goal of spreading awareness and providing solutions to our climate ailments.

For those of you interested in the Space Waste Lab and laser light installation, the visual can be Esplanade Square in Almere, Netherlands next weekend, as well as 9th and 10th November, 7th and 8th December and 18 and 19 January 2019.