No matter how many science-fiction movies you see, nothing can prepare you for the sound of Jupiter.
The sounders were captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a flyby of Jupiter’s north and south poles. Using a Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment, Juno recorded the radio waves caused by the activity of energy particles in the auroras that circle Jupiter’s north pole. The resulting recording occurred at too high a frequency for the human ear to hear, so NASA shifted it down into the audible spectrum and sped up its 13-hour duration to just 30 or so seconds. Needless to say, the results are haunting.
These “cries” into space have been known to exist for decades, but Juno finally allows NASA and its researchers to analyse them up close.
The infrared glow of Jupiter
“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument from the University of Iowa, said in a release from NASA. “These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”
Combine these eerie sounds with images of how chaotic Jupiter’s north pole looks and the gas giant starts to become one of the weirdest planets in our solar system.
“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton in a NASA statement. “Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole. There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our solar system is truly unique.”
With another 35 flybys set to occur before Juno is finished investigating Jupiter, we’re sure to hear and see a whole lot more of the Solar System’s largest planet. For now, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the whalesong of Jupiter.