This is the story of how being at the right place at the right time can turn into something incredible. This is about a photo that I took, back in 2017 and nearly forgot. And of course, how it ended up in space for several months (and in a Newspaper, but that sounds not as impressive).
So what happened? To be honest, I don’t recall all the details, but it started with a request from my university. A friend and fellow student of mine, who organized a protest march, called me and asked if I could take some pictures of this event. The protest was called “March for Science” and was part of a global event/ series of protests for the freedom and independence of research and science in general.
As I supported that message, I accepted. So what does that have to do with the image? And with space?
First of all, I totally underestimated the amount of people that showed up. My expectation was, that 20-50 will be there, some people will say important things and then we leave. However, I could not have been more wrong. As I arrived at the scene, the principal of our University showed up, and a stage was in the process of being built. At this point I realized that this was more official than I thought. After that, lots of people showed up. More than 2000, in fact. Still, this has nothing to do with space.
So to cut to the point, here is the image we are talking about:
The picture was taken in front of the Semperoper. As I did not know at the moment, that image was powerful for some people at that time. I don’t want to go too deep into politics with this post, but that was the same year Trump was elected into office. Also, at the same place (but different time) was a political protest, which was (as most newspapers would call it) right wing.
So at this point, this story could have ended. I uploaded the pictures to flickr, and forgot about it. But it didn’t end here.
Some weeks later, I received a message from a friend, that I should check out twitter. There I was greeted by something wonderful. My image was nominated by the Science March Germany for the Projekt4D.
What is Project4D?
Essentially, it is a project of the German Aerospace Center, to create a time capsule that will be taken on-board the ISS by the german Astronaut Alexander Gerst. It initially started as a project in which students can submit wishes and greetings for the future, that will be stored in the time capsule. However, as it grew immensely popular amongst adults, they extended it to also contain “Slices of Life”, important pictures that display the current Zeitgeist of our generation. Those pictures had to be nominated, and then inserted into the time capsule. So on June 15, 2017 I read this Tweet:
With that, the German Aerospace Center accepted the nomination, and my image went on flying to space some months later.
First of all, I am still grateful that my work was honored in this way. Hopefully, this era of humankind will be remembered not for the hate, but for its many great things like the scientific progress we achieved.
The title image is STS-134 Shuttle Mission Imagery under public domain from NASA.