NASA has released a new audio recording of Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons, which was captured by the Juno mission as the spacecraft flew within 645 miles of the moon’s surface. Produced by the mission’s WAVES instrument, which typically tunes into the electric and magnetic radio waves produced by Jupiter’s magnetosphere, the 50 seconds of audio offers a unique, somewhat eerie soundtrack for the long running mission.
“It’s not sci-fi,” announced a Facebook post by the American space agency, “It’s the real deal.”
BACKGROUND: JUNO AND WAVES WORKING IN CONCERT
Launched in August of 2011, the Juno spacecraft arrived in Jupiter’s orbit on July 4th, 2016. Since then, the unique probe has conducted numerous orbits of the gas giant, recording critical data about its atmosphere, composition, and other aspects.
Now, by using one of the instruments designed to measure activity in Jupiter’s magnetosphere, team members were able to tilt their electronic ears toward Ganymede, resulting in the one of a kind, classic sci-fi sounding recording.
ANALYSIS: NASA AUDIO OF GANYMEDE OFFERS RARE INSIGHT
“This soundtrack is just wild enough to make you feel as if you were riding along as Juno sails past Ganymede for the first time in more than two decades,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in a press release announcing the audio recording.
To actually capture the eerie audio, Bolton and fellow researchers sifted through the data from Juno’s June 7th, 2021 flyby of Ganymede recorded by the WAVES instrument. After isolating the 50 second section that represented the Ganymede flyby, the WAVES team range-shifted the actual frequency of the recording into the audio range, resulting in the final, audible clip.
Along with sounding cool, the mission specialists noted some of the enticing technical aspects heard within the range-shifted audio.
“If you listen closely, you can hear the abrupt change to higher frequencies around the midpoint of the recording,” explained Bolton regarding one particularly intriguing component of the audio recording, “which represents entry into a different region in Ganymede’s magnetosphere.”
“It is possible the change in the frequency shortly after closest approach is due to passing from the nightside to the dayside of Ganymede,” added Waves lead co-investigator William Kurth of the University of Iowa.
OUTLOOK: ANAYLYSIS OF GANYMEDE AUDIO MAY REVEAL ADDITIONAL SECRETS
According to the same press release, “detailed analysis and modeling of the Waves data are ongoing,” meaning even more may be learned about Ganymede. But in the meantime, it might be cool to go back and listen to the audio just one more time. Or even watch this cool video about the Juno mission.
Follow and connect with author Christopher Plain on Twitter: @plain_fiction