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Amazing light paintings -- in space!

The Spiral Top, a spinning gadget mounted with LEDs for gorgeous light paintings, brings a touch of artistry to the International Space Station.

Koichi Wakada

As the name implies, the International Space Station is a collaborative endeavor between global space agencies, each of which works on individual projects as well as team efforts. One of Japanese space agency JAXA's projects is, apparently, art -- more specifically, a project by artist Takura Osaka.

Called Spiral Top, it's a spinning gadget with LEDs in its prongs. When pushed through the zero-G atmosphere onboard the station, it allows a human photographer to take a beautiful, long-exposure light painting.

During his tenure aboard the ISS in 2009 -- and currently -- astronaut Koichi Wakada has been taking photos with the Spiral Top. He tweeted two recent pictures this week showing the device's passage through the station.

And below, the Spiral Top switched off and unmoving:

We're not entirely sure what the purpose of the artwork is, but JAXA is no stranger to interesting and offbeat space projects. Last year, the agency sent chat robot Kirobo into space to keep Wakada company on his long stay away from home.

(Source: Crave Australia)