Symphony of space: NASA records the song of the Earth’s magnetic field

NASA has published a recording of the sounds of the Earth’s magnetic field. It was created by the participants of the HARP Civil Science project (Heliophysics Audified: Resonances in Plasmas). 

The surroundings of our planet are filled with a whole symphony of sounds. It is a product of the interaction of the Earth’s magnetosphere with the solar wind. Charged particles cause magnetic field lines to vibrate like harp strings, producing ultra-low frequency waves.

THEMIS satellite in the artist’s image. Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

The frequencies of these waves are too low to be perceived by human ears. However, recently we have had the opportunity to hear how the magnetic field of our planet sounds. The HARP project should be thanked for this.

The HARP team was inspired by another project called MUSICS. Its participants “sonified” data on solar plasma collected by meteorological satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA. 

This time, the basis was taken from the data of the THEMIS mission launched in 2007. It consists of five NASA satellites that study the Earth’s magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. The participants of the HARP project have developed an interactive tool that allows them to translate information about the ultra-low waves registered by THEMIS into a familiar sound format. As a result, they managed to “voice” the Earth’s magnetosphere.

According to the participants of the HARP project, the work they have done is not just fun. Human hearing is a complex tool created in the course of millions of years of evolution, capable of conducting detailed analysis, the capabilities of which surpass even some of the most advanced computer algorithms. Listening to the sonified data makes it possible to catch patterns that could have been missed during their previous analysis. So, the project participants have already managed to detect a phenomenon called “reverse harp” — frequencies that change in the opposite direction than scientists expected. Therefore, they intend to continue their research in the hope of finding other important details that computers have missed.

According to

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