Last year, a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill attached infrared sensors to a helium air balloon and gifted the world with some spooky space recording.
With the help of NASA’s High Altitude Student Platform (HASP), Daniel Bowman sent his microphones 22 miles above the surface of the Earth. Bowman told Live Science that the resulting noise reminds him of The X-Files.
Live Science explained why we're able to hear the sounds at all:
The instruments eavesdropped on atmospheric infrasound, or sound waves at frequencies below 20 hertz. Infrasound is below human hearing range, but speeding up the recordings makes them audible.
Scientists don't yet know what made the sounds, but suspect that the sensors are picking up mundanities — think more ocean waves and turbulence than alien radio signals.
Still, the sounds are unique. Bowman told Live Science that this is the first time infrared sensors have gotten that far away from Earth.
But that doesn't mean that this is the first time we're hearing the sounds of space. NASA has long been gathering data from its interstellar instruments, and converting it to audio files for our aural pleasure. Here, for instance, is what Saturn sounds like (altered so that humans can hear it) from spacecraft Cassini.
Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions, which have been monitored by the Cassini spacecraft… This is an audio file of radio emissions from Saturn.
And here is the very screechy Jupiter, as recorded by Voyager 1:
"The signals in this sound file were acquired from Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument as the spacecraft approached the 'sonic boom' (or bow shock, as scientists refer to it) of Jupiter in 1979… The chirps heard at the beginning of the interval are waves generated by electrons coming from the bow shock and moving 'upstream' into the approaching solar wind."
And there's plenty more on NASA's SoundCloud page. Happy listening.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.