About Us


Solar Beacon is a collaboration between the artist Liliane Lijn and the scientist John Vallerga and has been designed and constructed by volunteers from the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL), U.C. Berkeley (see below). A history of their collaboration manipulating solar light, in particular their initial work “Solar Hills”,  can be found here.

Liliane Lijn, Artist.
Liliane Lijn is based in London and works in a broad range of materials and media, making extensive use of new technologies to create works that view the world as energy. A constant dialogue between opposites, her sculptures use light and motion to transform themselves from solid to void, opaque to transparent, formal to organic. Details of her work can be found at www.lilianelijn.com.

John Vallerga, Scientist
John Vallerga,  astrophysicist at SSL, manages the overall Solar Beacon project. His expertise is the development of very sensitive photon detectors for NASA space astronomy missions where he has participated on projects such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Horizons mission currently on its way to Pluto.

Pat Jelinsky, Scientist
Pat Jelinksy is an astrophysicist  and has designed and written the software that determines the position of the Sun and the Observers and controls the Solar Beacon mirrors to direct the sunlight between them. He was also instrumental in the development of the Solar Hills software.

Jason McPhate, Scientist/Engineer
Jason McPhate is detector scientist who has worked extensively on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope mission. He designed  the mechanical structure that holds the mirrors of the Solar Beacon Heliostat.

Adrian Martin, Scientist/Engineer
Adrian Martin is another detector scientist who  is responsible for the scheduling software that connects Observers with Solar Beacon.

Greg Dalton, Mechanical Engineer
Greg Dalton is responsible for the fabrication of the Solar Beacon panels and calculated the loading expected for worst case 100 mph winds at the top of the Bridge towers, to demonstrate their safety.

Greg Johnson, Mechanical Engineer
Greg Johnson is a mechanical engineer at SSL, having worked on the RBSP Spin Plane Booms and currently the MAVEN SWIA and STATIC instruments. He helped machine the Solar Beacon Panels.

Robert Lettieri, System Administration and Design
Robert is a System Administrator at the Space Sciences Laboratory, he works on many different projects including Stardust@home and others. For Solar Beacon he setup the website, created the logo and set up the cellular communication for the Heliostat.

Laura Peticolas, Scientist and Science Educator
Laura Peticolas is a space physicist who is now the Director of the Space Sciences Laboratory’s Center for Science Education group and Senior Fellow at SSL. She helps to make connections between the Solar Beacon and solar science and engineering to inspire the public to know more about science and engineering through art

Chris Scholz, Spaceflight Engineer
Chris Scholz has worked on NASA projects from High Altitude Balloons to a Hubble Servicing Mission, with an expertise in Electrical and Mechanical Fabrication as well as Quality Assurance.

Carl Dobson, Software Engineer
Carl Dobson is a software engineer with experience in the semiconductor industry and NASA spaceflight missions. He had an aborted run at the California Governorship in 2003

Joe Tedesco, Mechanical Engineer
Joe designs and fabricates various vacuum components for photon detector research. He created some of our Solar Beacon graphics.

Ruth Paglierani, Science Educator
Ruth is a Coordinator of Public Programs at SSL implementing education and public outreach programs that feature solar science. The Solar Beacon, one of several efforts she supports, provides a unique experience enabling people to make lasting connections between science, art and engineering.

Kyle Fricke, Science Educator
Kyle works for SSL and NASA as an educator in earth, space, and solar science. He hopes his participation in the Solar Beacon project will help educate and inspire future generations of scientists, artists, and engineers.

Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley
The Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) is an Organized Research Unit of the University of California, Berkeley. It is located in the Berkeley Hills above the Berkeley campus. It has developed and continues to develop many projects in space sciences and astrophysics.

Special thanks to:

Arts Council England (ACE) for development funding for Solar Hills
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for partnership development funding for Solar Hills
Steve Kovarik at Multi-tech
Thomas Kurcz at Crossbridge Solutions

 Posted by at 6:07 AM