Cosmic Garden

MAY 2023

Planted in the High Arctic, a garden of instruments endures the extreme cold while collecting critical information for climate scientists–from daily weather forecasts to long term climate change predictions. The instruments are built to serve as an extension of the researcher's curiosity, but they also have agency with their own hidden story about how the changing environment looks and feels. Quiet observation of their design and behaviour hints at these stories. Some excitedly squeak tilting towards the sun, and others remain buried deep within a moving glacier to collect frequencies inaudible to the human ear. Do scientific instruments dream of being part of a big discovery as much as the scientist using them does? Do they hold secrets about the environment that they cannot figure out how to tell humans yet?

This story presents a photographic field guide of the network of instruments used by climate scientists at the Ny-Ålesund Research Station, Svalbard, the world's northernmost scientific community and natural polar laboratory for environmental monitoring, and to study climate change.

Photos: Maggie Coblentz

Supported by: MIT Space Exploration Initiative

Special thanks:
Ny-Ålesund Research Station
Kings Bay
MIT Space Exploration Initiative