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NASA’s Juno, successfully made its first flight around Jupiter, capturing the “voice” of the giant in the process.
NASA‘s spacecraft is equipped with a recording device from the University of Iowa (UI) which recorded Jupiter’s aurora, a light show similar to the ones we experience here on earth. The UI device called Waves, picked up the planet’s radio emissions as Juno travelled 4184.29km above the planet’s surface.
The recorded emission was then converted by UI engineers making it audible. And absolutely haunting.
“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said associate research scientist Bill Kurth in a blog post. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras that encircle Jupiter’s north pole.”
According to NASA, these emissions were discovered in 1950 but were never examined so closely before.
“These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons that are generating them come from,” Kurth adds.
Juno records Jupiter’s aurora using with help from the University of Iowa’s recording device, Waves
Scientists have been fascinated with the way our own aurora works, more specifically, scientists want to observe how electrons and ions behave along magnetic fields which collide with the atmosphere. In order for the UI team to accomplish the observation of Jupiter’s aurora, Waves will begin sampling the plasma waves along different sections of the gas giant’s magnetic field lines.
“If you pluck a string on a violin, the string vibrates. The vibrating string is like the plasma itself; in the plasma, it is the charged particles that are moving,” says Kurth.
The raw data of the recorded waves, however, cannot be heard, but by downscaling the data to the audio range and then compressing it, could it finally be audible.
Scientists will have plenty more opportunities to study Jupiter’s “voice” as Juno is scheduled for more than thirty more flybys which will conclude in February 2018.
Feature image: NASA/JPL/Caltech