When it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of the public, space agencies such as NASA and ESA rely heavily on inspirational imagery. This makes perfect sense, as astrophysics and, quite literally rocket science, aren't the most easily accessible of subjects.
An evocative picture of a nebula captured by an orbiting observatory, or a wide-angle shot of a gas giant seen by the eye of a distant probe, is an excellent way to convey the majesty of the universe while not overwhelming the audience. The significance of non-visual data, such as radio emissions and magnetic waves, can be a little more difficult to convey. One way to overcome that barrier is to convert the raw data into audio.
Now, to get you in the Halloween spirit, NASA has released a playlist of spooky and eclectic audio clips created from a range of space objects and phenomena.
Some of the tracks cover important events in the planetary exploration timeline, such as when NASA's Juno spacecraft encountered Jupiter's powerful magnetic field on June 24, 2016. The probe's Waves instrument captured data for roughly two hours as it passed through Jupiter's bow shock – the region of space where solar wind emanating from the Sun is slowed and heated by the gas giant's magnetosphere.
Juno's experience of Jupiter's bow shock is the first of 22 tracks on the agency's playlist. Other audio samples are, well, just creepy.
Take for example Track 12 – an audio representation of a phenomenon called plasmaspheric hiss as recorded by NASA's Polar mission – harmless electromagnetic waves in Earth's upper atmosphere, or terrifying heavy breathing? You decide.
Another highlight from the playlist includes an unsettling clip of radar echoes from Titan's surface, as heard by the Cassini spacecraft. The audio is reminiscent of the unsettling sound of a computer from Ridley Scott's Alien franchise.
In conclusion, check out NASA's Halloween playlist, because it's definitely way better than yours.
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