Monday, November 12, 2007

NASA's Audio Recordings of Saturn

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Moogs in outer space! Well, almost. NASA recently published several audio recordings collected during the Cassini-Huygens space probe's exploration of the Saturnian system, and it couldn’t sound more like a theremin-laden soundtrack to a 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel. (And yes we know there’s already a sequel, but we mean a good sequel. Sorry, Roy Scheider. We loved you on SeaQuest DSV.). Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions that are generated along with the auroras of the planet's poles -- similar to Earth's northern and southern lights.

The eerie whistling, epic whooshing and warbling echoes collected by the probe's instruments sound as though they could have been lifted directly from '50s sci-fi classics like Plan 9 From Outer Space or Forbidden Planet.

Here’s a rundown of a few of the spooky recordings, all available for your listening pleasure on the NASA site:

A 2005 flyby of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, captured the sound of powerful ion cyclotron waves (organized fluctuations in the magnetic field), providing data about what ions were present in the atmosphere.
Radar echoes picked up as the probe descended onto Titan increase in pitch and intensity as the satellite neared the Saturnian moon, hinting at the nature and composition of its surface.
Sound samples recorded by Huygen's microphones during that descent were pieced together in a lab to create an audio reproduction of what a traveler would have heard while hurtling through Titan’s atmosphere. ~Wired