Despite what horror movies might tell you- space isn’t quiet.
While it is true that the traditional soundwaves that we hear with our ears cannot travel through the airless vacuum of space- other types of energy waves can and have been recorded by instruments on spacecraft which scientists then convert into sounds we can hear!
“For example, Parker solar probes- one of our most recent missions, has instruments on it to measure waves- radio waves, electromagnetic waves, and we can take that data and sonify it and we can hear the sounds of particles and waves moving away from the sun,” says Dr. Alex Young, the Associate Director for Science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
These whistles in plasma waves, dust from comets colliding with distant spacecraft, and even haunting sounds from other planets’ magnetic fields, are eerie… or beautiful (depending on your taste in music & love of science).
But for scientists, it’s invaluable data.
“Measuring waves, and measuring these ‘sounds’, this sonified information, tells us huge amounts of information about physics and the environment,” says Young. “It helps us piece together the story of what’s happening.”
As the sun is much more lively than the bright ball we see from Earth. I’ll explain how and why we study the sun in detail next week.
Video, images, and audio used in this story are courtesy of NASA.
Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson