Out of space: sun­rise on Mars gets own sound­track

Sci­en­tists use ‘data soni­fi­ca­tion’ to con­vert im­age from rover


Sci­en­tists have cre­ated a piece of mu­sic from the 5,000th Mar­tian sun­rise pho­tographed by Nasa’s Op­por­tu­nity rover.

A tech­nique known as “data soni­fi­ca­tion” was used to rein­ter­pret the im­age into a two-minute sound­track to be played while view­ing. The photo was scanned from left to right and each el­e­ment of bright­ness and colour in­for­ma­tion was con­verted into a spe­cific pitch and melody.

Their re­sult­ing piece, dubbed The Mars Sound­scapes, is set to be played at the Su­per­com­put­ing SC18 Con­fer­ence in Dal­las next week. Be­sides the sounds, the au­di­ence will be ex­posed to vi­bra­tional trans­duc­ers that will al­low them to feel vi­bra­tions in their hands as they lis­ten.

“Im­age soni­fi­ca­tion is a re­ally flex­i­ble tech­nique to ex­plore sci­ence and it can be used in sev­eral do­mains, from study­ing cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics of planet sur­faces and at­mos­pheres, to analysing weather changes or de­tect­ing vol­canic erup­tions,” said Dr Domenico Vic­i­nanza of Anglia Ruskin Univer­sity.

“In health sci­ence, it can pro­vide sci­en­tists with new meth­ods to an­a­lyse the oc­cur­rence of cer­tain shapes and colours, which is par­tic­u­larly use­ful in im­age di­ag­nos­tics.”

Op­por­tu­nity has been cap­tur­ing im­ages on the sur­face of the red planet since 2004. The rover was only ever meant to last 90 days on Mars, but it has now been there for 14 years.

Ear­lier this year, Nasa lost com­mu­ni­ca­tions with it when a mas­sive dust storm struck, but the team hope to re-es­tab­lish con­tact once con­di­tions are more sta­ble and it has had a chance to recharge its bat­ter­ies.

You can lis­ten to ‘The Mars Sound­scapes’ by vis­it­ing in­de­pen­dent.co.uk/life-style/gad­gets-and-tech/marssun­rise-mu­sic-op­por­tu­nity-rover-nasa-space-a8627481.html

Op­por­tu­nity’s 5,000th such im­age from the red planet (Anglia Ruskin Univer­sity)

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