NASA records strange radio waves from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

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NASA has recorded some weird “sounds” from one of Jupiter’s moons, and the audio is like something straight out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.

This includes chirps, high-pitched hisses, and buzzes. The noise also seems to speed up and reach a crescendo before mysteriously fading away.

“This is not science fiction. This is the real deal,” NASA officials said on Facebook.

The radio waves were recorded as NASA’s Juno mission “recently flew over the magnetic field of Ganymede, one of the gas giant’s many moons.”

Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton said the audio track was created when Juno’s instruments tuned “to electrical and magnetic radio waves produced in Jupiter’s magnetosphere,” according to a press release. The frequency was then “shifted into the audio range”, so we could “hear” Ganymede, the scientists said.

“This soundtrack is just wild enough to make you feel like you’re rolling as Juno cruises past Ganymede for the first time in over two decades,” Bolton said in the release.

“If you listen carefully, you can hear the abrupt shift to higher frequencies around the middle of the recording, which represents entering a different region of Ganymede’s magnetosphere.”

The radio wave emissions, collected on June 7, are considered one of the highlights of the mission, NASA said. The spacecraft “was within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of the moon’s surface and was moving at a relative speed of 41,600 mph (67,000 km/h).”

Analysis of the recording is ongoing and some NASA scientists suspect that the frequency changes may be due to the recorder “switching from the night side to the day side of Ganymede”.

NASA’s Facebook post announcing the recording garnered 19,000 reactions and over 800 comments, including some people who quoted the Bible (Isaiah 40:26). Meanwhile, the actual audio has been posted on YouTube and has gotten over 250,000 plays since December 16.

“Listen. Sounds like a Beatles album,” Rick Tosches wrote on Facebook, referring to the White Album track “Revolution 9.”

“Again, Star Trek was right!” Michelle Church Guzinski posted.

“I could be completely wrong, but the sound seems to have a certain mathematical sequence. I have a degree in math,” Hank McLaughlin said.

This story was originally published December 20, 2021 12:38 p.m.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with a major in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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