Sounds of Jupiter sent back by NASA's Juno are oddly familiar

The spacecraft studying the giant planet picks up some wave signals, and NASA slows them to a frequency humans can hear.

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Eric Mack
2 min read

NASA's Juno spacecraft has sent back the sweet and spooky tones of Jupiter's ionosphere, and it sounds a lot like an old modem from the early 1990s if it were a little drunk and handshaking with a BBS hosted by the local haunted house.

Juno picked up plasma wave signals, which are basically charged particles from the sun (also called solar wind) bouncing off Jupiter's magnetic field. The above video shows a frequency time spectrogram that allows you to see and hear the increasing plasma density that corresponds with Juno's approach on February 2.

The audio is a little distant and creepy, as you kind of expect from anything in space, but then there's the brief tones that sound like that old modem handshake in a bizarrely familiar way.

Jaw-dropping Jupiter: NASA's Juno mission eyes the gas giant

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"The momentary, nearly pure tones follow a scale related to the electron density, and are likely associated with an interaction between the Juno spacecraft and the charged particles in Jupiter's ionosphere," NASA said in a statement. "The exact source of these discrete tones is currently being investigated."

If you were flying above Jupiter in Juno, you probably wouldn't hear anything. That's because the actual observed frequencies approached 150kHz, which is too high for humans to hear. NASA slowed down the playback speed by 60 times to bring it into our hearing range.

This isn't the first bit of Jupiter's soundtrack that Juno has sent back. We've also heard the sounds of the craft crossing its magnetic field, and it's also captured some cool tunes from the gas giant's auroras.

This latest cosmic track is also part of a big batch of data from Juno that's recently been written up. Much more Jovian science is on the way: Juno is set to make a close fly-by of the planet's Great Red Spot on July 11.

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