ANU encourages public to get ‘space face’ on for satellite selfie

Stephen Kuper

The Australian National University is encouraging Canberrans and Northern Territorians to beam a message to Australia and the globe via space for the world’s largest-ever satellite selfie.

ANU encourages public to get ‘space face’ on for satellite selfie
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As part of National Science Week, and the Where You Are Festival presented by RISE Canberra and supported by the ACT government, the National Science Week committee and the Australian National University (ANU) have organised for a satellite flyover in mid-August. 

The satellite will capture images from 770 kilometres above the Earth, creating a time capsule of the ACT, its surrounds and the Northern Territory.

ANU astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker said the images would form the "ultimate, out of this world, selfie. Nothing to this scale and this many people has ever been tried before in the world, let alone Australia".


"Today's satellites are used for all sorts of things - from tracking bushfires to sending communications around the globe to exploring the darkest regions of space and even helping you buy milk. Now we are going to use one to take a massive selfie that shows what Canberra, its surrounds and the NT looked like in August 2020. And everyone's invited," Dr Tucker added.

Families, schools, businesses, workplaces and cultural institutions are all being invited to take part in the Satellite Selfie by creating large designs, flags or logos in ovals, parks, backyards or other open spaces.

Dr Tucker explained, "To be seen from space, the images need to be BIG and laid flat on the ground. Letters would need to be a minimum of 2.5 metres x 3.5 metres, but you could also display large flags or your own designs.

"For the best results, use reflective materials like aluminium foil, or block colours such as red, white, orange or yellow. And make sure they contrast with the background, no green designs on grass. You can make shapes or designs from paper, paint, cars, vinyl, or even assemble a human chain – but remember to stay 1.5 metres apart!"


The ACT flyover will cover Tharwa, Royalla, Sutton, Bungendore, Yass and Murrumbateman.

In the NT, the satellite will capture Darwin and Palmerston, Pine Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Jilkmingan, Mataranka, Barunga, Beswick, Manyallaluk, Jabiru, Gunbalanya, Batchelor, Adelaide River, Ramingining and Ngukurr.

"We're excited to see what designs the people of Canberra come up with for this, some schools are planning to write the school name or an image of local wildlife," ACT National Science Week committee co-chair Brittany Carter said.

The satellite flyover will occur for only a few minutes between 10 and 11am on 17, 19 and 21 August, to account for weather conditions and cloud cover, and to capture the clearest images.

"Plan to be outside for all three events to avoid missing out or make something to leave out for the whole week," Carter said.

"And remember to snap yourself posing for the satellite and use #satelliteselfie."

Images from the flyover will be released in early September so people can keep them forever. They will also be shared with the National Library of Australia. This event is presented by the Where You Are Festival with the support of the ACT government and is co-hosted by the Australian National University.

The Satellite Selfie is part of National Science Week in the ACT, which includes a variety of engaging science events running from 15 to 23 August. To see the full program of ACT National Science Week events, visit

This National Science Week project is supported by the Australian government.

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