The Eerie Music of Interstellar Space

While it’s true that there’s no air to carry sound in space, starship explosions would be strangely silent and no one can hear you scream, this latest Science @ NASA video reminds us that “space can make music, if you know how to listen.”

And the “how” in this case is with the Plasma Wave Science Experiment aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which is now playing the sounds of interstellar space — with a little help from University of Iowa physics professor and experiment principal investigator Don Gurnett. Watch the video above for a front-row seat (and read more about Voyager’s historic crossing of the heliosphere here.)

Sounds of the Space Station

CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield strums some chords in the cupola (NASA)

You’ve probably seen plenty of photos of astronauts and cosmonauts working aboard the International Space Station, and maybe even some videos of ISS briefings and interviews and tours throughout the different modules (and perhaps even an astronaut-produced song or two.) But have you ever wondered what the average, everyday sounds inside Station are like?

If so, Canadian astronaut and Expedition 34 flight engineer Chris Hadfield has an earful for you.

To share his ISS experience past mere pixels, Hadfield has posted some recordings on Soundcloud taken from various locations around Station, giving an idea of the many ambient noises found inside humanity’s orbiting “place in space.” (But if you think it sounds anything like the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, you may be in for a surprise.)

iss034e010603Here’s just a few of the recordings Hadfield has posted (you’ll have to click each to play in Soundcloud):

Ambient Noise of the Space Station

Station Noises and Sounds

Russian Segment Handrails

Soyuz Orbital Module

And here’s one that really doesn’t sound like anything on Earth: Toilet Starting on Station

So even though life on the ISS might not sound like what you’d first imagine in a spaceship or have a dramatic score to accompany its soaring adventures around the world, it certainly has a unique sound all its own (and sometimes the astronauts do get to add their own original soundtrack too.)

Space Folk

Chris may have founded a new music genre: “Space Folk”

Listen to more sounds of the Station on Chris Hadfield’s Soundcloud page here.

Inset image: Chris Hadfield poses with a Materials Science Laboratory Furnace Launch Support Structure (FLSS) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, flight engineer, uses a computer in the background.

What Does a Nebula Sound Like?

What do things sound like out in the cosmos? Of course, sound waves can’t travel through the vacuum of space; however, electromagnetic waves can. These electromagnetic waves can be recorded by devices called spectrographs on many of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Astronomer Paul Francis from the Australian National University has used some of these recordings and converted them into sound by reducing their frequency 1.75 trillion times to make them audible, as the original frequencies are too high to be heard by the human ear.

“This allows us to listen to many parts of the universe for the first time,” Francis wrote on his website. “We can hear the song of a comet, the chimes of stars being born or dying, the choir of a quasar eating the heart of a galaxy, and much more.”
Continue reading “What Does a Nebula Sound Like?”