Scientists Have Captured the Sound of a Sunrise on Mars

Scientists have created the soundtrack of the 5,000th Mars sunrise captured by the robotic exploration rover Opportunity, using data sonification techniques to create a 2-minute piece of music. Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and color information, and combining them with terrain elevation.

They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody. The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds toward the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright solar disk.

Dr. Domenico Vicinanza, of Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr. Genevieve Williams, of the University of Exeter, presented the world premiere of the piece, entitled Mars Soundscapes, in the NASA booth at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas (November 13).

The piece was presented using both conventional speakers and vibrational transducers so the audience could feel the vibrations with their hands, thus enjoying a first-person experience of a sunrise on Mars.

Opportunity is a robotic rover that has been providing photographic data on Mars for NASA since 2004. Earlier this year, it ceased communications following a dust storm. Scientists hope that it may resume its function later this year.

Dr. Vicinanza, Director of the Sound and Game Engineering (SAGE) research group at Anglia Ruskin, said:

Provided by: Anglia Ruskin University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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