Symphonies of the Planets

This idea of “the music of the spheres” runs through the history of Western civilization with an extraordinary consistency, even up to the twentieth century. At first it was meant literally, later poetically. Either way, music was seen more as a discovery than a creation, because it relied on pre-existing principles of order in nature for its operation. - Robert R. Reilly, Westminster Institute.

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This album was recorded by two automated NASA probes and all the music itself was produced by the planets and moons of our solar systems.

"Symphonies of the Planets," released in 1992 by Lasterlight Records as Voyager I and II made their 5-billion-mile journey across the solar system. The probes recorded electromagnetic waves in the soundless void of space surrounding Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.

The probes picked up the interaction of solar wind on the planets magnetospheres, which releases ionic particles with an audible vibration frequency. Essentially, we can then translate these waves into sound waves and put them on an album. The probes also recorded:

  • Waves from the magnetosphere

  • Trapped radio waves bouncing between each planet and the inner surface of its atmosphere

  • Electromagnetic field noise in space itself

  • Charged particle interactions of each planet, its moons and solar wind Waves from charged particle emissions from the rings of some planets

The probes recorded all this data on magnetometers, plasma detectors, low-energy charged particle detectors, radio antennas and instruments to measure cosmic rays and plasma waves. Then, Timothy Drake arranged selections from these recordings into a more musical form. So you're not listening to the raw data on these albums, but rather an audible collage constructed from various pieces.

After discovering these recordings, I could not resist translating these sonic masterpeices into visual form.

Here are the results:

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Miranda NASA small.png
Saturn NASA Print small.png
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daniel davidson