Space

Rosetta spacecraft picks up target comet's mysterious "song"

Rosetta has picked up a mysterious "song" from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Rosetta has picked up a mysterious "song" from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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Rosetta has picked up a mysterious "song" from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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Rosetta has picked up a mysterious "song" from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On the eve of the planned first landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that the unmanned Rosetta orbiter carrying the Philae lander has recorded a "song" emanating from the comet. The electromagnetic melody was detected by the probe’s Rosetta Plasma Consortium, which is a suite of five instruments used to study 67P.

The Rosetta Plasma Consortium is designed to measure the characteristics of the cloud of ionized plasma that surrounds 67P due to the interaction of the solar wind with the gases emanating from the comet. One of these instruments is a fluxgate magnetometer carried on a 1.5 m (5 ft) boom extending from the orbiter.

According to ESA, the oddly syncopated song was first heard in August when the probe came within 100 km (62 mi) of the the comet, and reappeared during recent maneuvers to bring Rosetta into position to release the Philae lander.

Aside from being a radio signal in the vacuum of space, ESA says that the comet song cannot be heard by the human ear because it broadcasts at 40 to 50 millihertz, which is outside the range of human hearing. However, ESA scientists have been able to make this music of the spheres audible by boosting its frequencies by a factor of 10,000.

Exactly what produces the song remains a mystery, but scientists believe it may have something to do with 67P’s magnetic field – possibly due to neutral particles becoming electrically charged as they’re exposed to the solar wind. Space sirens can probably be ruled out.

You can listen to the comet's "song" using the controls below.

Source: JPL

10 comments
Ra'anan Elozory
That's an alien MATING CALL! That's no meteor, that's a SPACE SHIP & they're coming for you know what!!!
Ranscapture
So perhaps we need to boost or lower the frequency of more signals and listen to them with our own ears. Alien messages might make sense to our ears but not to as a pattern to computers.
Globetrotter9900
Sounds like the guttural sounds of the creatures from Alien. How charming. An Alien Hannibal Lecture smacking it's lips while thinking Yummy thoughts.
Christian Dupont
@Ranscapture. You have an interesting idea. Also, doesn't this sound sample look like a barcode?
windykites
I think it is Bill Hailey and the Comets. One of their lesser known recordings
warren52nz
Wow! Rappers got nothing on this musical genius! 8^)
Jotan
Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!! space woodpeckers!!!!!!!!!!!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
PG
I took the liberty of running this signal through "Audacity" (audio editor) Try for yourself. Up the volume a bit and change the speed by negative 85% OR so. See what you think!
Melvyn Mathew
Why are the sounds in pulses? I am assuming if it was a free moving asteroid the sound emanated (created) from it would be a continuous variation based on changing magnetic fields or whatever the speculated theory was. Any thoughts.
Tommy Maq
I love rock music!
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