NASA Spacecraft Picked Up Weird Plasma ‘Sounds’ As It Plunged Into Saturn

NASA Spacecraft Picked Up Weird Plasma ‘Sounds’ As It Plunged Into Saturn

Space music at its absolute trippiest.

Is Saturn “singing” to one of its moons?

NASA said its Cassini spacecraft picked up something very unusual ― and unexpected ― when it plunged into Saturn on its final mission last year.

It detected a series of plasma waves heading from Saturn to its rings and into Enceladus, one of its moons. NASA described it as resembling an electrical circuit, with energy flowing back and forth.

NASA said researchers converted those plasma waves into an audio file “in the same way a radio translates electromagnetic waves into music.”

The result is the trippy sound file at the top of this story, which compresses 16 minutes of plasma waves into 28.5 seconds of out-of-this-world audio.

“Enceladus is this little generator going around Saturn, and we know it is a continuous source of energy,” University of Iowa, Iowa City, planetary scientist Ali Sulaiman said in a news release. “Now we find that Saturn responds by launching signals in the form of plasma waves, through the circuit of magnetic field lines connecting it to Enceladus hundreds of thousands of miles away.”

Sulaiman is lead author of two papers on this discovery.

NASA said the plasma waves were detected on Sept. 2, 2017, about two weeks before Cassini ended its mission with a bang by deliberately crashing into Saturn.

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Ed Mazza

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