Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Music Out Of This World

Date:
October 25, 2002
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
With scientific instruments on NASA's Voyagers, Galileo, Cassini and more than two dozen other spacecraft, University of Iowa physicist Dr. Don Gurnett has been recording waves that course through the thin, electrically charged gas pervading the near-vacuum of outer space.

With scientific instruments on NASA's Voyagers, Galileo, Cassini and more than two dozen other spacecraft, University of Iowa physicist Dr. Don Gurnett has been recording waves that course through the thin, electrically charged gas pervading the near-vacuum of outer space.

Gurnett converted the recorded plasma waves into sounds, much as a receiver turns radio waves into sound waves. "I've got a cardboard box full of cassette tapes of sounds that I've collected over nearly 40 years," he said.

Gurnett's tapes have inspired a 10-movement musical composition called "Sun Rings." The Grammy-nominated Kronos Quartet will premiere "Rings" at the University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Oct. 26.

Composer Terry Riley, selected for the project by Kronos' artistic director, compiled an assortment of melody fragments and ideas from the spacecraft recordings collected near Jupiter, Venus and other planets. "It was a powerful experience to listen to this material and realize it was coming from millions of miles away," Riley said.

Riley listened carefully to some crackling and squealing patterns from the magnetic field the Galileo spacecraft discovered surrounding Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. "It sounded to me like a voice saying, 'beebopterismo,' so that's the starting point for one of the movements," he said. "Beebopterismo" comes just before movements named "Planet Elf Sindoori" and "Earth Whistlers," Riley said.

"Sun Rings" directly incorporates some recorded sounds from Gurnett's scientific instruments into the live performance and also uses string instruments to mimic and build upon those elements. Riley added parts for a choir "to further emphasize that this work is largely about humans as they reach out from Earth to gain an awareness of their solar system neighborhood," he said.

The performance will be visual, as well as musical. Willie Williams, who has designed multimedia shows for Rolling Stones concerts and the Super Bowl, created a program of images to accompany "Rings." Some of the imagery comes from the twin Voyager spacecraft flybys of outer planets, including a video clip of Jupiter rotating.

"You don't necessarily need to have a great depth of scientific understanding to appreciate the beauty of these images and the sense of wonderment," Williams said. "This has turned into a much more contemplative piece than what I first thought it was going to be."

The NASA Art Program contacted David Harrington, the Kronos Quartet's artistic director, two years ago with a proposal to create music inspired by Gurnett's research. NASA and University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium co-commissioned the work. Part of NASA's mission is to inspire future explorers, and the Art Program is one of many ways NASA reaches the public. The Kronos Quartet has scheduled performances of "Sun Rings" in 2003 in Houston, San Francisco, London and California's Orange County.

Gurnett's instruments continue to examine plasma waves at new frontiers of space. On Voyager 1, launched 25 years ago and now farther from Earth than any other human-made object, plasma detecting instruments are returning information about the far reaches of the solar wind. Voyager 1 is expected to eventually record waves at the boundary between the domain of the Sun and true interstellar space. Cassini, with a radio and plasma wave science instrument as part of a diverse suite of instruments, will begin orbiting Saturn in July 2004. Galileo, orbiting Jupiter since 1995, will use a plasma wave subsystem in November to analyze the high-radiation environment closer to the giant planet than the orbiter has ever previously ventured.

Samples of the type of sounds converted from plasma wave instruments are available online at http://www-pw.physics.uiowa.edu/~jrp/sounds/sounds.html. One from Galileo's studies of Ganymede's magnetosphere is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/ganymede/pws.html. One from Voyager's passage through the bow shock of the solar wind against Jupiter's magnetosphere is at http://www-pw.physics.uiowa.edu/plasma-wave/tutorial/voyager1/jupiter/bowshock/text.html. One from Cassini, also of the interaction between the solar wind and Jupiter's magnetosphere, is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/jupiterflyby/gallery/gl_pages/rpws_release5.html.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini-Huygens missions for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Cassini-Huygens is a cooperative mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Music Out Of This World." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021025070109.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2002, October 25). NASA Music Out Of This World. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021025070109.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Music Out Of This World." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021025070109.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins