Scientists Have Transformed an Image of a Martian Sunrise Into a Haunting Piece of Music

Monday, 12 November 2018 - 1:27PM
Science Art
Mars
Monday, 12 November 2018 - 1:27PM
Scientists Have Transformed an Image of a Martian Sunrise Into a Haunting Piece of Music
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Whether it's recording music videos aboard the ISS or playing David Bowie songs in a NASA control room to try and wake up the sleeping Opportunity rover, space may be a much more musical place than you expect. Now, scientists have created a beautiful, haunting track that literally out of this world—it's a sonic representation of a Martian sunrise, as photographed by the Opportunity rover before it went dormant.

NASA has captured cosmic phenomena on audio before, such as the electromagnetic waves passing between Saturn and its moon Enceladus, but most of these tracks aren't really meant for human enjoyment. They certainly don't sound like Vincent Cheung's 'alien music,' either, which is still based on recognizable patterns. What makes this new track different is that it was engineered to be a little more...well, musical. According to Phys.org:

"Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and colour information and combining them with terrain elevation. They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody. The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds towards the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright sun disk."

You can listen to the song below!



The song will be presented at NASA's booth at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas, happening tomorrow. People who stop by will be able to hear the track as well as feel it with the help of equipment that will vibrate under their hands in synch with the melody.

"We are absolutely thrilled about presenting this work about such a fascinating planet," said Dr. Domenico Vicinanza, a scientist associated with the project, in a statement to Anglia Ruskin University. "Image sonification is a really flexible technique to explore science and it can be used in several domains, from studying certain characteristics of planet surfaces and atmospheres, to analysing weather changes or detecting volcanic eruptions."
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