Space & Innovation

'Space Invader' Found on International Space Station

A peculiar alien visitor has been found on the International Space Station -- but does it come in peace?

A peculiar alien visitor has been found on the International Space Station -- but does it come in peace? Inspired by the popular 1970's video game "Space Invaders," a small red mosaic of one of the pixelated aliens has been recovered by European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and was photographed inside the orbiting outpost's Cupola, looking down on Earth. Continue browsing the gallery to see how far the "invasion" has spread...

The art was created by the French urban artist "Invader," who's true identity is a closely guarded secret. However, his art is very well known. Inspired by 8-bit video games from the 1970's and 80's, Invader's distinctive artwork can be found in over 60 cities in 30 countries around the globe. And now, in an orbital first, Invader's work has been installed on the hatch of ESA's Columbia module, shown above.

The artwork has been cropping up in the Italian astronaut's Twitter feed for the past few months. "Pssst, #SpaceInvader... These are the EMU suits for tomorrow's spacewalk. Spooky eh? #space2iss," she tweeted on Feb. 19.

The small tile was actually delivered to the ISS in July 2014. Since then, "these space invaders have been spotted not only in the Space Station but also in ESA establishments all over Europe," writes ESA. "The first invaders were seen at ESA's astronaut center in Cologne, Germany. More mosaics have been seen at ESA's Redu Center in Belgium (pictured here), where satellites are controlled and tested as part of ESA's ground station network."

This is a close-up of one of Invader's pieces of pixel art at ESA Redu in Belgium on Feb. 23, 2015.

Another mosaic at ESA Redu in Belgium.

Although the mission of the Space Invader isn't clear, its intent is hinted at. According to Cristoforetti, she hopes that the pixelated artforms that are popping up across ESA establishments will inspire primary school children "in using their imaginations for combining geometry, colors and mathematics into abstract minimalism."

"Look what I found! Hey there, who are you?" tweeted Cristoforetti on Jan. 19 when she first encountered the Space Invader. Its first appearance on the ISS was above a space station control panel.

The progress of this invasion can be followed on Twitter using the hashtags #space2iss and #SpaceInvader. So does this particular Space Invader come in peace? It seems so. It has appeared on the space station as a unique piece of urban art intended to inspire. That's one invasion we can all be excited by.

Sources: Invader, Twitter, Flickr, ESA