NASA Spacecraft Picked Up Weird Plasma 'Sounds' As It Plunged Into Saturn

Studying plasma and radio waves can be a great help when it comes to understanding more about the relationship a planet like Saturn has with its rings and moons.

Is Saturn "singing" to one of its moons? Our own Moon does not interact in the same way with Earth.

"Enceladus is this little generator going around Saturn, and we know it is a continuous source of energy", said Ali Sulaiman, planetary scientist at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a member of the team that recorded the waves, in a statement.

While we know that there is no "sound" as such traveling between Saturn and Enceladus since that would require air, radio waves can and do travel through space, and we are able to pick up plasma waves from probes like Cassini.

The probe registered a vibrating column of plasma which carries waves inside it; scientists then converted the waveforms into sound, using a similar process to how a vehicle radio functions.

Before NASA's Cassini spacecraft burned up in Saturn's atmosphere in September 2017, it captured a massive trove of data, including striking close-ups of the planet and images of its cosmic neighborhood.

"In other words, Cassini detected electromagnetic waves in the audio frequency range - and on the ground, we can amplify and play those signals through a speaker", they explained.

The result is the trippy sound file at the top of this story, which compresses 16 minutes of plasma waves into 28.5 seconds of out-of-this-world audio.

The findings were published recently in two papers in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Auroral hiss emissions during Cassini's Grand Finale: Diverse electrodynamic interactions between Saturn and its rings.

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