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Cassini Captures Audio of Storm On Saturn

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 years ago | from the energy-beings-can-scream-in-space dept.

NASA 51

Sooner Boomer writes "The Cassini space probe has been monitoring an enormous storm on Saturn since it was detected last December. The storm, dubbed 'The Great White Spot', now 500 times larger than any previously seen by Cassini at Saturn, is 8 times the surface area of Earth. Observers on Earth have been able to see a bright white 'smudge' in the northern half of the planet." NASA released a recording of the electrical noise generated by the lightning.

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51 comments

Cassini (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 3 years ago | (#36681634)

It is wonderful that we are visiting our naybirs in the solar sistim. When will Casini come back with Saturn rocks and will I get one please? thankyou

Speaking as a NASA employee (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681830)

I will personally see to it that when Cassinni lands on Saturn next week that it picks up some rocks just for you. We just need to make sure it doesn't land anywhere near the storm though, or it might get blown over and the drawer where all the experiments are kept will open and they will fall out.

Re:Speaking as a NASA employee (1)

RKBA (622932) | about 3 years ago | (#36684344)

Oh No, are they finally going to crash it into the planet to get atmospheric data? I'm retired now, but I'm one of the thousands at JPL who worked on Cassini (I wrote the firmware for the BAIL subsystem among other things). I was kind of hoping they would just let it orbit Saturn in perpetuity just as the Voyager spacecraft will still exist long after Earth is gone (unless of course one or both crashes into something).

I used to get regular email updates on Cassini, but I've moved around and changed email addresses so many times I somehow stopped receiving them.

Earth damage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681652)

When the earth next orbits past Saturn, will the storm cause any damage? I bet the Saturn wind blowing across the sea would cause big waves, maybe even a tsunami, are we even prepared for this?

Re:Earth damage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681718)

No, but you can be prepared if you purchase a tornado system from FLAT SAFE TORNADO SYSTEMS. [flatsafe.com] These shelters offer you the protection YOU need at a price YOU CAN AFFORD.

Speaking as a NASA employee (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681724)

Yes, there is a definite, strong likelyhood that the storm on Saturn will blow across the sea and cause big waves, and tsunamis are a possibility. We are also totally unprepared for this. I scared.

Re:Speaking as a NASA employee (1)

outsider007 (115534) | about 3 years ago | (#36681896)

You Saturnians are obviously to blame for not recycling or capping carbon emissions. Be ashamed.

Not really audio (5, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | about 3 years ago | (#36681680)

Cassini didn't capture audio of the storm. It captured essentially electrical noise which would be like turning an AM radio on during a thunder storm. The summary and webpage are a little misleading in this regard--it's not as though a microphone on a balloon was dropped into the atmosphere.

Re:Not really audio (2)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#36681990)

it's not as though a microphone on a balloon was dropped into the atmosphere.

No, but a microphone on the Hugyens probe did as it descended through Titan's atmosphere. Here's the audio. [nasa.gov] The sound isn't particularly exciting, but the achievement certainly is.

Re:Not really audio (1)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | about 3 years ago | (#36682696)

Close but not quite. That's the simulated RADAR baseband knocked down to AF. Here's the "laboratory reconstructed" acoustic microphone rendition:

http://esamultimedia.esa.int/images/huygens_alien_winds_descent.mp3 [esa.int]

Sounds like wind, doesn't it?

Re:Not really audio (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#36683140)

Oops. Linked to the wrong one. Good catch. Might as well link to other spooky sounds [nasa.gov] presented by nasa.

Re:Not really audio (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 years ago | (#36685556)

Ooh, I like the Saturn one, very 1960s sci-fi, gives me an idea for a story actually.

Re:Not really audio (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36681992)

I know you're only trying to help, but they're only misleading if you don't understand what a transducer is.

Re:Not really audio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36682474)

There's no indication an audio transducer in the atmosphere was involved. ie, the "noise" is not coming from sound waves nor is it directly coming from some vibratory source. So as far as I am concerned, it is not audio. It's not the same as thunder or anything like that.

Re:Not really audio (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36682648)

The transducers are on your desk, and in your ears, not in space.

Re:Not really audio (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#36682056)

Your distinction is correct; but it would be very interesting to know if there is any way of inferring, from the electrical noise, what the physical state and thus, (with some greater or lesser degree of inexactitude) what the situation would sound like if you had a mic on the scene...

On the plus side, Cassini has demonstrated the capabilities necessary to capture that distinctive noise that TIE fighters make as they fly past, inexplicably following approximately WWII aerial maneuvering constraints in hard vacuum...

Re:Not really audio (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36682188)

I really doubt it, because a large number of the things that cause loud noises have very little electric effect, and vice versa. Sound is caused by vibration, electricity is not (except in some cases).

Re:Not really audio (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36682220)

Well, if they are receiving EM waves caused by lightning, it would probably cause a pressure wave similar in nature to "thunder". It would be difficult to say what it would sound like at one particular location, since I imagine their recording is a superposition of all the electrical activity coming from a large region of the storm. I also imagine the sound would vary greatly based on altitude (due to different atmospheric pressures). On the other hand I don't think (but I'm not entirely sure) that what you hear is dependent on the gas transmitting the pressure wave, so I don't see why lightning on Saturn would sound any different than lightning on Earth.

Sounds familiar (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | about 3 years ago | (#36681684)

This sounds like playing a 12" vinyl album at 33 1/3 when there's all kinds of dust and scratches on the record. I guess I kind of hoped it would sound...well....interesting in some way.

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 3 years ago | (#36681772)

ok, ok, ok who has been whacking it -- while simultaneously holding their mic -- with their mic open?

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#36683412)

Yeah. I almost expected to hear Glenn Miller and his band come in.

Maybe now we know what happened to him.

Audio in space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681694)

If this was a movie we would probably hear wheals moaning.

Sound does not travel in vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681754)

We've all been conditioned by movies to think otherwise, but sound travel by vibrations and needs a medium to propagate, gas, liquid, or solid. There are no sounds in space, because there is nothing to support it.

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#36681822)

We've all been conditioned by movies to think otherwise, but sound travel by vibrations and needs a medium to propagate, gas, liquid, or solid. There are no sounds in space, because there is nothing to support it.

True, but you could fire a laser into the atmosphere and record fluctuations in the returning beam.

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

liquidpele (663430) | about 3 years ago | (#36681974)

That requires a solid surface and the ability to even get reflection over such a distance much less even develop e laser that doesn't dissipate before it gets there.

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36681938)

There are no sounds in space, because there is nothing to support it.

That's not entirely true. More accurately, there's just *very little* sound in space. Also, you would definitely hear it if a large spacecraft full of gas exploded next to you, even in a perfect vacuum. All that gas and energy is going to expand outwards in a significant pressure wave. Sure, it will die out much faster then it would on Earth, but it certainly is not going to be silent to an appropriately positioned observer.

Lasers going pew pew in space, now THAT is ridiculous =p

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36682024)

This is just the electrical noise, "transcoded" into an audible form. "Noise" in this case does not refer to sound, but presumably to perturbations in the normal electro(-magnetic?) emissions that are detected emanating from Saturn.

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36682212)

"Noise" in this case does not refer to sound, but presumably to perturbations in the normal electro(-magnetic?) emissions that are detected emanating from Saturn.

Unfortunately, they used the word "Audio" in TFS and TFH. "Audio" can only be used as far as I am aware to refer to sound.

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36682444)

It may be a little misleading, but it is common to do this in astronomy. We take "invisible" waves and frequency shift them to ranges where we can visualize them as pretty pictures. Radio astronomy does the same thing, but with one dimensional signals; they just also use a transducer to convert them to mechanical waves, because our minds find it useful to hear one dimensional signals, rather than just look at plots of them.

I used to study VLF waves produced by lightning on earth, and we would often play signals out through speakers to help us understand their nature. This is the reason that whistlers [wikipedia.org] are called whistlers, and not something lame like "dynamic frequency lightning produced electromagnetic waves"

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#36682062)

We've all been conditioned by movies to think otherwise, but sound travel by vibrations and needs a medium to propagate, gas, liquid, or solid. There are no sounds in space, because there is nothing to support it.

The sound just propagates through waves in the aether...

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36682864)

It's just there in the air.

Fucking sound, how does it work?

Re:Sound does not travel in vacuum (1)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36684288)

But when things explode, that gas expanding and blowing past your ship might make some noise?

Yes, it blends! (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 3 years ago | (#36681778)

It took a couple thousand NASA scientists, a couple billion dollars... but now we know. Yes, it blends.

Re:Yes, it blends! (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 3 years ago | (#36681888)

Sweet! We have a blender large enough that we can blend Saturn in it? .... ...... .........

Our Galactic Conquest is at hand and can finally begin! All races of the galaxy will bow down before our mighty blender or be consumed within its warm embrace!

Re:Yes, it blends! (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 3 years ago | (#36686572)

Still waiting for a bathtub large enough to prove that Saturn will float in water...

Better than whale sounds (1)

chomsky68 (1719996) | about 3 years ago | (#36681912)

Finally! It took a while but now I can change my ambient bakcground music at home from whale singing to static stomach cramp noises! It is even better than those tree hugging hippie crap rain forest cds! I haven't heard such a nice sound since my old AM radio died a decade ago... I wonder if it will make it to Hit #1 though?!

8 times the surface area of the Earth? (1)

SethThresher (1958152) | about 3 years ago | (#36681916)

Oh, so roughly the same size as a Minecraft world then.

Compression fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36681956)

The mp3 is a larger file than the wav. Nice going, NASA!

MP3 larger? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#36682118)

The real mystery is how NASA managed to compress the 93Kb wave file into a 120Kb MP3 file. Solving that might explain some of their budgetary issues.

Re:MP3 larger? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#36682228)

They wanted super high fidelity, so encoded it as a 3000kbps mp3 to up the quality from the original source.

Re:MP3 larger? (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#36682312)

Yeah they used some weird transcoder. mp3check doesn't even recognize it as an audo mpeg stream. They also upsampled their 4khz .wav file into an 8khz mp3. Don't worry though, I'm sure audiophiles can hear the difference =p

Re:MP3 larger? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#36685304)

How much you want to bet we paid $100k+ for the encoder... lol

Thank you, NASA Scienticians (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 3 years ago | (#36682140)

Your technointerpretive presentations of simufactual infotainment never fails to edutroll me.

bright white smudge on saturn (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 3 years ago | (#36682162)

not as noisy as the dark brown storm on Uranus

Re:bright white smudge on saturn (1)

indecks (1208854) | about 3 years ago | (#36682428)

I laughed.

Just to let you know... (1)

wirelessfreek (1326273) | about 3 years ago | (#36682246)

People have been listening to this on our planet for sometime. Atmospherics or 'sferics' for short are generated by lighting and are actually very wide band in coverage. Yes they can be heard on shortwave radios as a crackle and loud crash but the one I listen with is custom made for this purpose (BBB-4 VLF receiver). They can be quite interesting to listen to as lighting produces some interesting sounds when cut off in frequency; whistlers, Chorus and tweeks for example. Other interesting sounds can be heard from Auroras when their is a geomagnetic storm expected.

Tesla didn't die.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36682970)

He just went home. ;)

It looks like ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#36683648)

... the atmosphere is blowing by some sort of fixed object below the cloud tops. The linked photo sure looks like eddies in a current rather than a rotating storm.

Uranus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36685922)

Can it smell Uranus?

I call fake! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36686076)

I can record stuff like that a lot more cheaply by rubbing my finger on the mic.

Supermassive Storm Raging On Saturn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36714204)

Supermassive Storm Raging On Saturn
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fDwFyxQNds

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