For a while I thought Chris Hadfield had a monopoly on space sounds—at least, the interesting and melodious ones. But just because no one can hear you scream in space doesn’t mean there’s no sound out there. Earlier this year a Harvard professor turned supernovae sounds into songs, and Voyager I and II have both captured some creepy noises in their journey towards interstellar space. Now, NASA has released some electromagnetic recordings of the solar system captured by probes such as Voyager, INJUN 1, ISEE 1, and HAWKEYE. The songs are eerie and awesome, especially when you can associate the sound with the planet or area from which it came.
The various space probes recorded charged electromagnetic particles and radiation fluctuations from the solar wind, ionosphere, and planetary magnetosphere using plasma wave antenna. They picked up everything the human ear can hear, which makes one wonder what other sounds exist out there that we can’t hear. The frequencies were captured from Saturn’s rings, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter, Io, Uranus, and other places throughout the solar system.
There’s a certain hollowness to all these recordings, which seems only appropriate considering where they were captured. But what’s also interesting is the variations and combinations. I particularly appreciate the absence of car horns—I certainly hope those never infiltrate space.
The sounds were also incorporated into songs with Space Project, a compilation released by Lefse Records. The album features bands such as Spiritualized (appearing here as the Spiritualized Mississippi Space Program), Porcelain Raft, Youth Lagoon, and Jesu. There are 14 tracks in all, many of them infused with a sense of nostalgia and expansiveness. The album itself is cohesive, not so much for the space noises as for the concept itself. Sometimes it’s tough to pick out the actual Voyager recordings, which is why listening to them on their via the above video is particularly interesting, especially after you hear the album.
If this kind of project is aimed at helping promote interest in space ventures, I’m all for it. Why not have Curiosity harvest some sounds of Mars—even of its own moving and drilling? We could have a theme album for each planet, and maybe burn them into a disk in case the aliens want to give a listen.